Personnel: Chris Pitsillides, Catherine Musker, Clare Finmore, Richard Nelson, Peter Lale, Susan Dench (vocals); Emma Welton, Laura Melhuish, Richard George, Ann Morfee, Christopher Tombling, Charles Mutter, James Harris , Liz Partridge, Brigett Davey, Kathy Share, Helen Paterson, Clare Thompson, Juliet Snell, Leo Payne, Harriet Davies, Robert Salter (violin); Peter Collyer (viola); Ann Lines, Christine Jady, Tony Finigan, Joy Hawley, Andrew Fuller , Sophie Harris, Audrey Riley (cello); James Hunt (saxophone); James Knight , Ben Castle (tenor saxophone); Graeme Flowers, Chris Storr, Dominic Glover, Nathan Bray (trumpet, flugelhorn); Simon Finch, Henry Collins (trumpet); Nichol Thompson, Barnaby Dickson, Winston Rollins (trombone); Peter North (bass trombone); Richard Steggall, Phillip Eastop (horns); Elizabeth Bradley, Bill McGee , Danny Manners, Corin Long (double bass).
Released three years after their final album, Statues, a Moloko best-of was long overdue. Fortunately, the straightforwardly named Catalogue delivers an impeccably edited collection of the duo's eclectic, ahead-of-the-curve music, gathering their biggest hits and key album tracks. Gorgeous romanticism, drop-dead style, and a funky sense of humor -- not to mention Roisin Murphy's charismatic vocals and Mark Brydon's forward-thinking production skills -- were the key ingredients in Moloko's freewheeling mix of dance, pop, and rock, all of which are on display throughout Catalogue and especially on its first five tracks, which are, not coincidentally, the duo's most popular singles. "Fun for Me" and "Pure Pleasure Seeker" are quintessential examples of Moloko's sexy, mischievous take on dance anthems; "The Time Is Now" and "Familiar Feeling" are searching-but-glamorous ballads; and of course, the pair's breakthrough single "Sing It Back" is as alluring as it is inventive. Unlike some best-ofs, which have to stretch to fill out an album's worth of tracks, Catalogue is a welcome reminder of how strong Moloko's overall body of work is. From Do You Like My Tight Sweater?'s "Day for Night" and "Where Is the What If the What Is in Why?" to the title track of Statues, each song on the collection holds up. Catalogue's only flaw -- if it can be called that -- is that it doesn't include many of the flights of fancy that made Moloko's albums so distinctive. The closest the collection gets to the duo's deeply kooky side is the cryptic but irresistible shuffle of "Indigo" and the playful pop of "The Flipside." This is a minor drawback though -- Catalogue is a great Moloko primer, and any newcomers charmed by the songs here have even more to discover on the full-length albums. ~ Heather Phares