Album Review: Goldfrapp – ‘The Singles’

Posted: 31/01/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on Entertainment.ie on January 27th 2011

So you’re not very au fait with the way of Goldfrapp. That’s okay. It’s never too late to introduce your ears to the wonderful electric stylings of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, as they unleash this collection of their singles to date – plus two brand new tunes for good measure…

It all began back in the year 2000 with Felt Mountain – a veritable chart failure, but nevertheless a critical success which landed the fledgling Goldfrapp a Mercury Prize nomination. Featured songs on The Singles collection are the beautifully eerie ‘Lovely Head’ and the exquisite ‘Utopia’ – Alison’s operatic guise to close the latter still as dazzling as ever. 2003’s Black Cherry added a new dimension to the Goldfrapp sound, as they stepped up their game merging blissful electronica with a new brand of dirty electro. Representing in force on The Singles are the thumping synths of ‘Train’, and the brilliant ‘Strict Machine’ – its pulsing opening bass beats never failing to instil that ‘I wish it was the weekend’ feeling at any given moment, with the album’s title-track ‘Black Cherry’ also on-hand to ease one’s weary head back to reality. Two years older and two years wiser, 2005’s Supernature brought the party -a dance-pop delight which cemented Goldfrapp firmly in the spotlight of the mainstream. The iconic ‘Ooh La La’ is so repetitious it’s brilliant; the breathy vampish vocals of ‘Ride A White Horse’ work surprisingly well against the backdrop of disco beats they’re put up against; and ‘Number One’, a sickly-sweet piece of blissed-out electronica goodness, remains arguably the duo’s crowning glory.

Paganism and surreal children’s books formed the basis of inspiration for 2008’s Seventh Tree, an album which revealed a deeper and somewhat darker side of Goldfrapp – psychedelic folksy indie-electronica, if you will. The barrage of everything from brass to piccolos that is ‘Happiness’ and the poignantly frank ‘A&E’ represent on The Singles collection – however, annoyingly omitted is the vivacious ‘Caravan Girl’ – can’t have ’em all, I suppose. Likewise, the choice of singles from 2010’s back-to-the-dancefloor 80s throwback wonderland Head First is surprising – ‘Rocket’ is a given, but the inclusion of ‘Believer’ over ‘Alive’? A questionable omission.

Besides the back-catalogue, there are also two new tracks tacked on to close out The Singles – the first, the somewhat disappointing ‘Yellow Halo’, a slice of breezy electronica which fails to really captivate in any way. In complete contrast, the second – ‘Melancholy Sky’ – is instantly charming. A beautiful ambient melody delivered with that trademark hushed vocal style, and a gradual build which is capable of inducing goosebumps – particularly the sweeping strings and brilliant brass that make up the instrumental breakdown mid-song. Tweets from Alison Goldfrapp last year suggested that there is a new studio album in the works, and as such The Singles is by no means a swan-song from the duo – however if it were, ‘Melancholy Sky’ would most definitely be a fitting way to bow out. But the song also serves as proof that Alison & Will still have an awful lot to give – so we’ll sit tight in the hope of that new album materialising. After all, there’s nothing like looking back to make you look forward – and the songs of The Singles are still as impressive as ever. Wonderful electric, indeed.

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