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Trip Hop - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Distinctions Sélection Disques de l'année Les Inrocks
After spending years on the dancefloor with Black Cherry and Supernature, Goldfrapp take a breather with Seventh Tree. Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory slow down the beats and break out the acoustic guitars on a set of songs that suggest chilling out in a field during a hazy, watercolor summer; this is music for after the party, not after-parties. "Clowns" opens the album with fingerpicked acoustic guitar, bird songs, and Allison's nearly wordless vocalizing, making a statement that's bold because it's so gentle -- the effect is like stepping out into a sunny morning after spending all night in a club. At first, it's a shock, and then it feels great. Avoiding the glammy dance-pop of the duo's previous two albums is a bit of a risk, since Goldfrapp could probably make endless variations on "Ooh La La" and still have plenty of fans. However, Seventh Tree isn't so much a radical change for Goldfrapp as it is a shift in focus; even if it doesn't sound glam, it sounds glamorous. Sonic luxury has been the only constant in the duo's sound, from Felt Mountain's darkly lavish soundscapes to Black Cherry and Supernature's decadent dance hits, and there's plenty of it here, too. This is not Goldfrapp Unplugged, although acoustic guitars and strings waft in and out of the album effortlessly -- if anything, Seventh Tree's electro hippie-chic is the duo's most polished and luxe work yet. "Little Bird"'s psychedelic trip-hop builds to a majesty that recalls "Strawberry Fields Forever," buoyed by layer upon layer of guitar, vocals, sparkling synths, and a massive, rolling bassline. "Caravan Girl" is some of Goldfrapp's finest escapist pop, capturing the irresistible appeal of running away with big hooks and an even bigger wall of sounds backing them up. Allison uses her voice more beautifully and expressively than she has since Felt Mountain, especially on "Eat Yourself" and the Air-esque "Cologne Cerrone Houdini," where her upper register shines. Goldfrapp expand their emotional palette as well as their musical one on Seventh Tree, digging deeper into the vulnerable territory they explored with Supernature's "Number One." On "Monster Love" and "A&E," where Allison confesses "think I want you still, but it may be pills at work," the duo pulls off the confessional, folktronic singer/songwriter style with more flair than their peers. "Happiness," on the other hand, offers some surprisingly cheeky irony, pondering how to find "real love" (answer: "donate all your money") while coming across like a cheery cult anthem about trading your worldly possessions for colorful robes. With all the sounds and feelings Seventh Tree explores, it's clear that Goldfrapp doesn't miss the style the pair perfected on their last two albums, nor should they -- this is some of their most varied, balanced, and satisfying work. [A limited edition of Seventh Tree was also released with a DVD featuring live performances at Bexhill-on-Sea's De La Warr Pavilion; the videos for "A&E," "Happiness," and "Caravan Girl"; and TV performances of "Clowns" and "Road to Somewhere."] © Heather Phares /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 17, 2005 | Mute, a BMG Company

It's something of a mystery why Mute Records waited until early 2006 to release Goldfrapp's third album, Supernature, in the U.S. After all, when it came out in the U.K. the previous summer, it made the duo into a bona fide chart success, to the point where the album's terrific lead single, "Ooh La La" -- on which Allison Goldfrapp channels Marc Bolan's dippy-cool vocals and lyrics over a shuffling, glam-tastic beat -- drew comparisons to former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens' similarly glam-inspired hit "Some Girls." While Goldfrapp might balk at being called (or compared to) a pop act, it's undeniable that the duo has streamlined and simplified its sound since the baroque Felt Mountain days. It's also undeniable that Supernature is some of Goldfrapp's most accessible work. Coming across like the missing link between Black Cherry's sexy, sharp-edged dancefloor experiments and Felt Mountain's luxe soundscapes, Supernature sometimes combines the best elements from those two albums into something great, and at other times renders them into something surprisingly bland. Along with the aforementioned "Ooh La La," the upbeat tracks find Goldfrapp becoming the robo-glam-disco gods that Black Cherry suggested they might: the starkly catchy "Lovely 2 CU," the fabulously blasé "Ride a White Horse," and "Satin Chic," which could single-handedly make honky tonk pianos fashionable again, all use the duo's inherently theatrical style to very catchy, immediate ends. Interestingly, though, the sweeping ballads that used to be Goldfrapp's forte are the most uneven tracks on Supernature. It's not that tracks like "Time Out from the World" and "Koko" aren't pretty and ethereal enough, but they're just not that distinctive. Likewise, "Fly Me Away" is pleasant, but maybe a little too pleasant -- it almost sounds like it was commissioned for a travel commercial. However, "Let It Take You" shows that Goldfrapp can still craft gorgeous, weightless ballads, and "Number 1" nails the laid-back sexiness that many of the other slower songs attempt. It's surprisingly heartfelt, too -- is there a sweeter compliment than "you're my Saturday"? It would be unfair to say that Supernature's stripped-down pop is a dumbed-down version of what Goldfrapp has accomplished in the past, since it takes a certain kind of smarts to hone songs into instantly catchy essences like the album's best tracks. Yet, as delightfully stylish and immediate as Supernature is, it's still hard to escape the nagging feeling that Goldfrapp could make its ethereal sensuality and pop leanings into something even more compelling. [Supernature was released in the U.S. with the bonus track "Beautiful," which originally appeared on the U.K. Number 1 EP.] © Heather Phares /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Electronic - Released December 19, 2011 | Mute, a BMG Company

Goldfrapp spanned luxe John Barry-style orchestral pop to dominatrix dancefloor moves to summery British folk and more over the course of their albums, but The Singles shows that their craftsmanship and good taste may have been their most defining quality. That, and Alison Goldfrapp's stunning voice, which was flexible enough to not just fit any mold that her and Will Gregory's ideas required, but to redefine them; listen to her soaring highs and cooing lows on "Utopia" for a reminder. While the duo's glam-disco hits like the sexy, low-slung "Ooh La La," "Train," and "Strict Machine" may have been most popular, The Singles is admirably egalitarian, a point emphasized by how its sequencing puts songs from different albums and eras side by side. Hearing the timeless-feeling dark romanticism of Felt Mountain tracks such as "Lovely Head" next to the introspective, flower child, synth pop of The Seventh Tree's "A&E," and the spot-on '80s homage "Rocket" from Head First reaffirms that Goldfrapp were keen students of pop music of all styles and eras, but vibrantly creative in their own right. Their style-hopping sounds less like searching for what will stick and more like the product of two restlessly creative artists who had the talent to do just about anything they wanted and tried a little of everything. While it's disappointing that a few singles aren't here ("Pilots" and "Satin Chic" are particularly glaring omissions), the inclusion of two previously unreleased tracks makes up for that, especially since the reflective "Yellow Halo" and seductive "Melancholy Sky" rival the quality of any of their album tracks. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2013 | Mute

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Electronic - Released March 31, 2017 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 17, 2005 | Mute, a BMG Company

It's something of a mystery why Mute Records waited until early 2006 to release Goldfrapp's third album, Supernature, in the U.S. After all, when it came out in the U.K. the previous summer, it made the duo into a bona fide chart success, to the point where the album's terrific lead single, "Ooh La La" -- on which Allison Goldfrapp channels Marc Bolan's dippy-cool vocals and lyrics over a shuffling, glam-tastic beat -- drew comparisons to former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens' similarly glam-inspired hit "Some Girls." While Goldfrapp might balk at being called (or compared to) a pop act, it's undeniable that the duo has streamlined and simplified its sound since the baroque Felt Mountain days. It's also undeniable that Supernature is some of Goldfrapp's most accessible work. Coming across like the missing link between Black Cherry's sexy, sharp-edged dancefloor experiments and Felt Mountain's luxe soundscapes, Supernature sometimes combines the best elements from those two albums into something great, and at other times renders them into something surprisingly bland. Along with the aforementioned "Ooh La La," the upbeat tracks find Goldfrapp becoming the robo-glam-disco gods that Black Cherry suggested they might: the starkly catchy "Lovely 2 CU," the fabulously blasé "Ride a White Horse," and "Satin Chic," which could single-handedly make honky tonk pianos fashionable again, all use the duo's inherently theatrical style to very catchy, immediate ends. Interestingly, though, the sweeping ballads that used to be Goldfrapp's forte are the most uneven tracks on Supernature. It's not that tracks like "Time Out from the World" and "Koko" aren't pretty and ethereal enough, but they're just not that distinctive. Likewise, "Fly Me Away" is pleasant, but maybe a little too pleasant -- it almost sounds like it was commissioned for a travel commercial. However, "Let It Take You" shows that Goldfrapp can still craft gorgeous, weightless ballads, and "Number 1" nails the laid-back sexiness that many of the other slower songs attempt. It's surprisingly heartfelt, too -- is there a sweeter compliment than "you're my Saturday"? It would be unfair to say that Supernature's stripped-down pop is a dumbed-down version of what Goldfrapp has accomplished in the past, since it takes a certain kind of smarts to hone songs into instantly catchy essences like the album's best tracks. Yet, as delightfully stylish and immediate as Supernature is, it's still hard to escape the nagging feeling that Goldfrapp could make its ethereal sensuality and pop leanings into something even more compelling. [Supernature was released in the U.S. with the bonus track "Beautiful," which originally appeared on the U.K. Number 1 EP.] © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 17, 2006 | Mute, a BMG Company

The aptly named remix collection We Are Glitter takes the singles from Goldfrapp's glam-tastic Supernature in a variety of directions, courtesy of remixers such as the Flaming Lips, Ewen Pearson, and Múm. About half of the reworkings take the songs in an even more dancefloor-oriented direction; the best of these, such as T. Raumschmiere's mix of "Lovely 2 C U" and the DFA's hyper-percussive take on "Slide In," offer a distinctive spin on the originals without obliterating them completely. The other half of We Are Glitter gives these songs more eclectic makeovers: in the Flaming Lips' hands, "Satin Chic" becomes a show tune from an interstellar musical, while C2's remix of "Fly Me Away" gives the song an urgency and edge that the album version lacked. Múm's spun-sugar, music box-like revamp of "Number 1" turns the song into a fairy tale lullaby that makes it another standout. Goldfrapp's own drums and guitar-heavy We Are Glitter remix of "Strict Machine" is a bonus track and a welcome addition for die-hard fans who had all of these remixes on the singles already. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 21, 2003 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 8, 2014 | Mute

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 /TiVo
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Electronic - Released May 29, 2000 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electronic - Released August 8, 2005 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electronic - Released May 1, 2006 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electronic - Released June 11, 2001 | Mute, a BMG Company

Goldfrapp's "genetically enriched" Utopia EP combines all the tracks from both of the U.K. singles and features a whopping five versions of the title track, including the album version as well as several remixes. Jori Hulkkonen, Tom Middleton, and Tim Wright take the song in various dance-oriented directions, all of which are pleasant enough but not especially distinctive, especially when compared to the sweeping, icy grandeur of the original. Likewise, the live version of "Human" is notable more for how well Goldfrapp re-creates the atmosphere of Felt Mountain in a concert setting than for any variations or improvements on it. However, the whispery, exotica-tinged "Utopia (Sunroof Mix)" adds a subtle, fresh twist to the song, while Calexico's Spanish cover of "Human" expands on that song's filmic feel and takes it in a very different direction. Last but not least, the witty, electro-inspired rendition of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" -- known here as "U.K. Girls (Physical)" proves that for all of Goldfrapp's haughty drama, the duo's tongues are placed firmly in their sculpted cheeks. Fans of the group who haven't already bought the U.K. singles from which this EP is derived will be pleased to know that Utopia is as entertaining as any mini-album with five versions of the same song can possibly be. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2018 | Mute

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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 2, 2010 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2006 | Mute, a BMG Company

The aptly named remix collection We Are Glitter takes the singles from Goldfrapp's glam-tastic Supernature in a variety of directions, courtesy of remixers such as the Flaming Lips, Ewen Pearson, and Múm. About half of the reworkings take the songs in an even more dancefloor-oriented direction; the best of these, such as T. Raumschmiere's mix of "Lovely 2 C U" and the DFA's hyper-percussive take on "Slide In," offer a distinctive spin on the originals without obliterating them completely. The other half of We Are Glitter gives these songs more eclectic makeovers: in the Flaming Lips' hands, "Satin Chic" becomes a show tune from an interstellar musical, while C2's remix of "Fly Me Away" gives the song an urgency and edge that the album version lacked. Múm's spun-sugar, music box-like revamp of "Number 1" turns the song into a fairy tale lullaby that makes it another standout. Goldfrapp's own drums and guitar-heavy We Are Glitter remix of "Strict Machine" is a bonus track and a welcome addition for die-hard fans who had all of these remixes on the singles already. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | 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 /TiVo

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Goldfrapp in the magazine