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Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2013 | Mute

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Goldfrapp fans know to expect changes from album to album, but the switch in direction between Head First and Tales of Us is one of the duo's most drastic about-faces. Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory's sixth album trade the neon nostalgia of Head First's synth pop for a subtler, more complex sound that evokes Felt Mountain's lushness and Seventh Tree's acoustic confessions. Tales of Us could be seen as a cross between those two works -- and Goldfrapp have certainly covered enough territory that they could live out their days making hybrids of their earlier music -- but there's more to the album than that. There was a somber stillness to Felt Mountain's most haunting moments that made it uniquely compelling, and Goldfrapp returns to it here, delivering the set of unforgettable torch songs they always seemed destined to make. Above all, these songs are intimate: they bear the names of lovers as they unfurl several diaries' worth of memories and regrets. Tracks like "Simone" move between whispered sentiments and widescreen heartbreak as the duo blends orchestral and electronic elements into gorgeous arrangements and melodies that sound decades old and instantly familiar. As lavish as Tales of Us is at times, Goldfrapp sounds more genuine and natural than they ever have. On "Drew," strings sneak up on Alison's murmured remembrance of "dreams of your skin on my tongue" as the song gradually builds to heights that prove the duo really should record a James Bond theme. This filmic feel is no coincidence, since the works of David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni served as inspiration. However, the album's cinematic nature goes deeper than its sound; Tales of Us also features some of Goldfrapp's strongest storytelling. "Annabel" explores a child's fluid gender identity, with Alison sighing "why couldn't they let you be both?" over a heartbreaking melody (on "Stranger," she wonders if the one she's been missing is a "boy or girl," emphasizing the all-encompassing sexuality of these songs). The duo also sets some of the album's most unsettling tales to its most beautiful music: "Jo" is a lullaby filled with gunshots and a blood red moon, while an almost sobbing melody gives "Laurel"'s sordid tale an added tragedy. While Tales of Us is Goldfrapp's most consistent album in terms of mood and sound, the duo still adds some variety. "Thea" brings film noir to the dancefloor with shivery synths and a beat that begins with footsteps, and "Clay" ends this collection of heartache on a (relatively) idealistic note. Even with these slight detours, Tales of Us isn't as immediate as, say, Supernature. Regardless, it's Goldfrapp's most sophisticated work to date, and one of their most consistently satisfying albums. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Distinctions Sélection Disques de l'année Les Inrocks
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Though her collaborations with Tricky, Orbital, and Add N To X focused on the sheer beauty and power of her singing, on her debut album Felt Mountain Allison Goldfrapp also explores more straightforward styles. Together with composer/multi-instrumentalist Will Gregory, Goldfrapp wraps her unearthly voice around songs that borrow from '60s pop, cabaret, folk, and electronica without sounding derivative or unfocused. From the sci-fi/spy film hybrids "Human" and "Lovely Head" to the title track's icy purity, the duo strikes a wide variety of poses, giving Felt Mountain a stylized, theatrical feel that never veers into campiness. Though longtime fans of Goldfrapp's voice may wish for more the exuberant, intoxicating side of her sound, lovelorn ballads like "Pilots," "Deer Stop," and "Horse's Tears" prove that she is equally able at carrying -- and writing -- more traditional tunes. A strange and beautiful mix of the romantic, eerie, and world-weary, Felt Mountain is one of 2000's most impressive debuts. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 31, 2017 | Mute

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Given Goldfrapp's fondness for following one of their albums with its musical and emotional opposite, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory were due for a fun album to balance 2013's gorgeously somber Tales of Us. What they deliver with Silver Eye, however, isn't quite so predictable; instead of swinging between extremes, they stake out a more intriguing middle ground. It's true that the album begins with a pair of cybersexy movers that are quintessentially Goldfrapp: "Anymore"'s hydraulic grooves and the Radiophonic Workshop disco of "Systemagic" are untouched by EDM or any other trends that surfaced since the last time the duo made its way to the dancefloor. However, as Silver Eye unfolds, things get more difficult to pin down easily. The hypnotic invocation "Tigerman" and the standout "Become the One," which pairs tweaked, Knife-like vocals with an undulating beat before shooting into orbit on silvery synths and harmonies, are the first signs that Goldfrapp aren't working from an obvious template. They continue to subvert expectations on the album's second half, where they combine reveries that might have been set to orchestral backdrops on previous albums with a largely electronic palette that balances fresh and familiar perfectly. "Faux Suede Drifter"'s languid majesty harks back to Felt Mountain, but the psychedelic contrails of guitars and backwards vocals feel new, emphasizing the contributions of co-producer the Haxan Cloak and guitarist Leo Abrahams. Similarly, the galloping percussion underpinning "Beast That Never Was" adds a newfound restlessness to its pristine beauty. Just when things might be getting too contemplative, Goldfrapp pick up the pace again with the breezy "Everything Is Never Enough," which somehow distills their entire body of work into a single song, and "Ocean," another Haxan Cloak collaboration that closes the album with operatic drama and industrial crunch. At once balanced and eclectic, Silver Eye may be the first Goldfrapp album to represent all the sides of their music equally well -- no small feat, considering how long they've been dancing to the beat of their own drum machine. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Booklet
Goldfrapp stepped off the dancefloor with The Seventh Tree’s folky reveries, but the duo couldn’t stay away for long. Head First dives into luscious, eminently danceable synth pop that's almost as far removed from the sleek shuffle beats of Black Cherry and Supernature as their previous album was. This time, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory look to the ‘80s for inspiration, but not the brittle sound that was fashionable to ape in the late 2000s, like La Roux and Little Boots. Instead, they explore the uber-glossy productions, staccato melodies, and dramatic key shifts that were the hallmarks of anthems that some might not want to admit they liked decades later. The influence of Giorgio Moroder and Italo-disco in general can be heard throughout Head First, but ABBA and especially Xanadu-era Olivia Newton-John are even more prominent (the cover of “Physical” that appeared between Felt Mountain and Black Cherry feels more prescient with each album Goldfrapp releases). The pair makes more of these sounds than just pastiche, although the finesse with which they re-create this distinctive sound will give listeners serious déjà vu. Even the album’s length and structure feel retro: Head First is a svelte nine songs long, with the singles on its A-side and ballads on the B-side. And the singles -- particularly the first three -- are some of Goldfrapp’s most irresistible songs yet: “Rocket”’s driving minor-key verses and huge, shimmering choruses tap into the brain’s pleasure center as efficiently as possible; “Believer” sounds instantly familiar, but not tired or obvious; and “Alive” channels ABBA with percolating guitars, warm keyboards and synths that sparkle like a shower of glitter. These songs have a sugar rush-immediacy that is new to Goldfrapp’s music, even if it nods to a golden age of pop that was unabashedly joyous. These songs are so mainstream, they’re almost subversive; while Goldfrapp is no stranger to catchy singles, the brooding undercurrents that appeared in all of the duo's previous albums are missing. Song titles like “I Wanna Life” hint at the big, brightly colored strokes the duo is painting with this time, and the title track’s rainbow brightness and romantic ideals are miles away from the dark sensuality of their earlier work -- only “Shiny and Warm,” which plays like a revamped “Satin Chic,” has any trace of that vibe. Even Head First’s moody songs aren’t as moody as before, though “Hunt” has a hazy, late-night glamour to it. As almost Goldfrapp album shows, the duo is unafraid of abandoning sounds that worked for them in favor of something else. Coupled with The Seventh Tree, this album proves that Goldfrapp’s skill at adopting and fully embodying different styles is what makes them distinctive, not necessarily one signature sound. If the album seems somewhat slight, it’s purposefully so: Head First is a love letter to the frothy, fleeting, but very vital joys of pop music. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

In an admirably daring move, Goldfrapp's second album, Black Cherry, takes the duo in a very different direction than its instant-classic debut, Felt Mountain. Instead of just serving up more lush electronic torch songs -- which certainly would've been welcome -- Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory continue in the direction that their cover of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" suggested, adding digital-sounding synths, electroclash-inspired drum machines, and more overtly sexual lyrics to their music. While their artistic risk-taking is commendable, unfortunately the same can't always be said for the results: Black Cherry sounds unbalanced, swinging between delicate, deceptively icy ballads and heavier, dance-inspired numbers without finding much of a happy medium between them. It's true that Felt Mountain's cinematic sweep owes a debt to the likes of Portishead, Björk, John Barry, and Shirley Bassey, but its mix of old-school glamour and more modern arrangements -- not to mention Allison Goldfrapp's charms as a futuristic siren, at once sensual and aloof -- were so compelling that the album felt fresh despite its roots. Black Cherry, however, is so dominated by its influences that all too often there doesn't seem to be enough room left in the music for Goldfrapp to really make the music its own. To be fair, most of the album isn't bad -- it's just not as consistently amazing as Felt Mountain. Songs like "Crystalline Green," "Tiptoe," and "Train" are among the better synth pop-inspired tracks, keeping enough of Goldfrapp's previous sound to give a good balance of familiarity and invention, but they don't really show off the expressive range of Goldfrapp's voice that well. Not surprisingly, Black Cherry's highlights apply Felt Mountain's eloquent restraint to a slightly different sonic palette: The title track has a spacy allure thanks to the flute-like synths and lighter-than-air drums and strings, while "Deep Honey" mixes harpsichords, strings, and foreboding analog synths to ominously beautiful effect. "Hairy Trees" conjures a digitally pristine utopia (though it does include the rather embarrassing lyric "touch my garden") and "Forever" is one of the few tracks that really allows the pure tonal beauty of Goldfrapp's singing to shine through. Problems crop up on Black Cherry when the group works too hard to change its trademark sound: Despite its very danceable groove, "Twist" overplays its hand by adding too many buzzing synths and operatically orgasmic vocals (though, admittedly, they do show off Goldfrapp's impressive pipes better than some of the other songs). "Strict Machine" and "Slippage" share a similar fate, piling on dominatrix-y drum machines to give the songs a dance edge but eventually sound weighed down by them in the process. It's possible that Black Cherry disappoints because it tries to go in two different directions at once; it might have been a more coherent listening experience if it were either more ballad-based or featured more synth pop homages. As it stands, it's merely a not entirely successful experiment that suffers from its ambitions and in comparison to its brilliant predecessor. While some Felt Mountain fans may not have the patience for this album's radical departures, Black Cherry is still worthwhile for those willing to take some risks along with the group. ~ Heather Phares
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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 30, 2014 | Mute

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Electro - Released March 2, 2018 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released February 23, 2018 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released August 1, 2005 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 16, 2018 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released July 26, 2010 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Pop - Released September 28, 2018 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electro - Released March 1, 2017 | Mute, a BMG Company

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