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Róisín Murphy, 'CooCool'

I remember the exact moment I stopped thinking of Róisín Murphy as a merely "good" musician and began to view her as genuinely heroic. At the height of lockdown, the Irish singer posted alive performance of her single "Murphy's Law" to YouTube. The song is about small town claustrophobia, and how fate and force of habit seem to ensure that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Now that the pandemic had proven just that, Murphy strained against the cramped limits of reality rather than succumbing to them; shouting, "Keep on!" while high-kicking in a ball gown in her living room. In doing so, she reminded why she's been one of the most remarkable pop musicians of the past 25 years: her ability to make the most fraught emotions feel dazzlingly danceable and glam possibility seem completely within reach.

On her latest single, "CooCool," Murphy foregoes psychodrama to bask in uncomplicated love. "I lost it," she mutters through rippling reverb as a muffled drum machine kicks the track into an understated groove. Whatever has been lost — her nerve? Her joie de vivre? — is steadily regained as she establishes that she's firmly on the right side of a rough patch: "That ol' magic's back / A warm feeling flooding / A new age of love / An incandescent joy." Cruising over DJ Koze's rapturous production, which has echoes of her jazzyearly work, Murphy sweet-talks her way to the chorus before forsaking words to coo out her pleasure. As vintage horns fire off and a silvery Santana guitar mirrors her delight, Murphy luxuriates in the music, having once again found a new way to be free.

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Harry Tafoya