In the five years since Róisín Murphy's last album, Overpowered, the Irish singer has seemed anything but. To the contrary, she's done what she damn well pleases. On 2009's self-released "Orally Fixated," she celebrated her imminent motherhood with a song that scanned, more or less, as a meditation on breastfeeding — although the racy cover favored a far more salacious reading of lines like "My cupboard is bare, you're already there." (Thank goodness, Ms. "Do You Like My Tight Sweater?" Murphy gave birth to a girl; had it been a boy, the mind reels at the psychoanalyst's bills that might have resulted, a few years down the line.) And in recent years, the former Moloko frontwoman has enjoyed a period of creative promiscuity, teaming up with Italian electro-stompers Crookers, synth-disco revivalist Mason, New York house DJ David Morales, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, and Ninja Tune's plucky bass-music savant Toddla T. Now, with no advance notice, she turns up with a new single on Munich's Permanent Vacation label.
Produced by someone named the Crooked Man, "Simulation" is a slow-motion disco jam reduced to the bare essentials: Hissing hi-hats, daubs of Rhodes, and Murphy's own incomparable voice. Bumping and grinding through 11-and-a-half minutes of heavy breathing, and featuring one seriously ecstatic chorus (as well as a cheeky reference to Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face?"), the track sounds like an older, wiser version of Moloko's mega-hit "Sing It Back" — angrier, agonized, and all the sexier for it.
With her newfound sense of the groove and retro-not-retro sound, Murphy sounds right at home amidst Permanent Vacation regulars like Tensnake, Todd Terje, and Azari & III. New York tribal-house fixture Eric Kupper turns in a suitably pneumatic dub version, while rising Berlin producer (and fellow Irishman) Mano Le Tough delivers a stellar rework reminiscent of a more disco-fied Carl Craig. The single comes out digitally and on vinyl August 24; stream the entirety of Mano Le Tough's remix below.