As wonderful as Roisin Murphy’s vocal is on this track from the first Handsome Boy Modeling School album may be – and it is, haunted and fragile and knowing all at once, alternatively icey and pleading, sometimes switching between the two in a single line (Her “But in your present state/You may as well not be here at all” is a line that makes me wish that Murphy got better material than she normally does; it’s just an amazing reading, as is her “Baby, I’ll die/Without you by side” at 3:50) – there’s almost no way to hear this without just wanting to bow down to the sampled, looped piano, the way that it continually builds tension by ramping up the performance and then returns to the beginning of the sample, over and over again, jittery and uneven in all the best ways. It’s a beautifully simple loop to build the song around, and deceptively dramatic at the same time. There’s no real release in the song, it just builds and drops and builds and drops. Add to that the messy drums, and even such a spectacular vocal as Murphy’s finds itself eclipsed by the music surrounding it.
(I’m not ignoring the J-Live rap, as much as not having much to say about it; it’s relatively dull by comparison to the Murphy vocal or the sample, which is a shame. It has an important and necessary place in the song, but it doesn’t really do anything worthwhile with it, I think.)