The second album from Róisín Murphy was a laser-focused, dance floor-targeted collection of high-gloss disco/house/synth-pop that reigned in the musical risk-taking which characterised much of her prior output. Murphy collaborated with a clutch of decent dance music producers including Richard X, Groove Armada’s Andy Cato and Richard ‘Crooked Man’ Barratt, and turned in a super-slick set of glam dance floor anthems and deep disco grinders, all graced with vocal performances that range from haunting to menacing to seductive, sometimes in the same song. Staying mostly within the confines of disco, new wave and house rather than indulging in her trademark quirky experimentalism, Overpowered still maintains that unique Róisín Murphy character and personality while also delivering a rock-solid collection of high-level chanteuse-disco.
This was intended to be Murphy’s smash hit album — major-label signed, with clean pop production in contrast to the quirky funk of Moloko and the Matthew Herbert production on Ruby Blue — but it didn’t quite work out that way. Partly it was the label not understanding what a force of nature they were dealing with, partly Murphy’s own leftfield instincts, from her wild outfit on the cover to lyrics that reference anthropology and chemistry as much as sex and romance. Nonetheless it IS a truly great pop record, a solid hour of intoxicating joy. “You Know me Better” could easily have been a number one single for Kylie, and large sections of the record are the kind of ultra crisp 21st century disco that Dua Lipa would take to global success a decade-plus later. And, even better, in the context of Murphy’s subsequent catalogue it sounds richer than ever now.