• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Not Fade Away 2000: The Time Is Now, by Moloko

Sorry, where were we? Oh yes. Before my broken wrist-induced sabbatical we had arrived at the end of the twentieth century. Now that I'm more or less back up to speed (my right hand is still in plaster as I type this) it's time to start catching up. Time to forge on into the 21st century.

And if among the contenders for 2000 there's nothing I'd want played at my funeral there's plenty that points us towards where we're heading in the years (or weeks if you stick to this blog's timeframe) to come.

Mostly that would be America. The arrival of Eminem in 2000 as a best-selling artist fully cements hip hop as one of the default settings for pop music (was it because he was white?). But it's the first appearances of producers Timbaland - whose itchy, glitchy production skills can be heard framing Aaliyah's ice-cool vocal on Try Again - and the Neptunes (aka N*E*R*D, aka Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) - the powers behind Kelis's blood-hot rage on Caught Out There - who point the way forward for the next ten years. Mainstream pop thrills burnished by 21st-century technology. Many of the records likely to get a mention in this place in the weeks to come will owe something to one or other.

This side of the Atlantic British guitar pop was starting to droop by the turn of the century. Within a few years Andrew Harrison of the late, lamented music magazine The Word would coin the term "landfill indie" to describe much of what constituted alternative rock (there were exceptions; I'll give you the Strokes and maybe Franz Ferdinand. But not The Libertines). That phrase eloquently summed up far too much music that at best was nothing more than drearily adequate.

And so it probably says a lot (about my taste if nothing else) that in the list of Other Contenders for 2000 guitar rock only features once, when PJ Harvey channels Patti Smith on Good Fortune.

There were more solid returns to be found in British pop. Adopted Aussie expat Kylie reinvigorated her career with Spinning Around, while All Saints - always portrayed as the street version of the Spice Girls - peaked with their lushest tune, Pure Shores. Better than either, though, was the first single by new girl group Sugababes. That said, none of them had the sheer urgency of Kelis (how many women left the chorus of Caught Out There - "I hate you so much right now" - on their errant boyfriend's voice message that year, you have to wonder).

If I'm honest I'd happily choose Kelis for this week's choice. Or maybe something - anything actually - from my favourite album of the year, Saint Etienne's Sound of Water, which is a very British take on Air's Moon Safari, a gorgeous, dreamy abstraction of a record, full of bubbling synths and memories of hazy sunny yesterdays.

But in the interests of narrative, because of the fact that Saint Etienne have at least one more great album in Not Fade Away's future and aware that at least two recent choices - Bjork and Lamb - could be located in the same neighbourhood, let's look elsewhere this week.

And anyway after the long wet winter I want to listen to something that has the scent of spring in its nostrils. And for that there are only two options: Since I Left You by Aussie mad samplists The Avalanches (the accompanying album is said to contain some 3,500 samples) and this week's annointed winner, The Time Is Now, by Moloko.

We've talked a lot in this blog about lost girls - from Sandy Denny to Lauryn Hill. Moloko's Roisin Murphy doesn't qualify, thankfully. But she has been too quirky, too angular a talent to find a comfortable place in pop. You can hear that most obviously on Moloko's early records, which suffer from an excess of archness. It's particularly evident on debut album Do You Like My Tight Sweater, named after Murphy's introductory line to Mark Brydon, the man who would, for a time, become her partner in life and Moloko.

Murphy had no previous experience in music at that point. Brydon, though, had been involved with music all the way back to Sheffield never-quite-weres Chakk in the eighties.

By 2000 the wilful quirk of the duo's dance music beginnings had faded away and they were embracing their poppiness.

Sing It Back had already given them a huge hit a year before, but The Time Is Now is their tune for posterity, I reckon. A midtempo, post-Balearic tune with a Flamenco flavouring (there's guitars if you want them) that has Murphy breathily whisper-singing the words seemingly directly into your ear.

There was another album in Moloko before Murphy and Brydon split (in every sense). In 2014 Murphy has new work on the horizon according to her website, including an album in Italian. She remains her own woman.

That's part of the appeal of The Time is Now, of course. A woman finding her voice, a voice that wants you to listen.

You can say the same of the record. It's is a warm, welcoming embrace of a song.

Here comes the sun.

Other Contenders

Caught Out There, Kelis

Try Again, Aaliyah

Spining Around, Kylie Minogue

Lovely Head, Goldfrapp

Good Fortune, PJ Harvey

Overload, Sugababes

Pure Shores, All Saints

Since I Left You, The Avalanches

Stan, Eminem

Groovejet, Spiller

Still Dre, Dr Dre

The Light 3000, Schneider TM

The NME Single of the Year 2000: The Real Slim Shady, Eminem

John Peel's Festive 50 Winner: Twist the Knife, Neko Case and Her Boyfriends

And the best-selling single of 2000: Can We Fix It, Bob the Builder

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

221653