Goldfrapp Seventh Tree(Mute) Buy it from Insound
Seventh Tree finds Goldfrapp taking it back, after a few albums of hot blooded downtempo electro cabaret, not just to the more dreamy, ambient textures of their debut, Felt Mountain, but into the pastoral, psychedelic English folk tradition. I'm not sure if its just exoticism or the lingering effects of the first Wicker Man, but this type of material always seems more striking to me than its American counterpart.
Speaking of striking, the album art here justifies the purchase of a physical copy. Photographic and drawn evocations of the woman turned into an owl as punishment for her independence. Allison Goldfrapp has made herself into one of the underground's more enduring and inimitable sex symbols, but these new woodland images jettison the more confrontational sex plus animal motifs of before, while managing to be earthier and creepier. Really, its hot.
But enough about the pictures, this has music, too! Allison and Will Gregory have not gotten rid of the electronic effects that have dominated their last few releases, but they are here utilized to provide the dreamy shimmer to a collection which, beneath the ornamentation and overdub, could all be demoed, Nebraska style, with a mere acoustic guitar. And yes, acoustic guitar is all over this. The most recent release it recalls to me, actually, in feel, effect, and deliciously melancholy female vocals, is Out of Season, Beth Gibbons' folkified collaboration with Rustin Man.
Much of Seventh Tree, however, is so airy as to be forgettable, depending on one's emotional vulnerability and/or state of intoxication to be moved by it. While making the sound of each album very distinctive, Goldfrapp still cannot deliver a full set of memorable songs. There are enough highlights here to recommend it. On different ends of the spectrum, Eat Yourself and Clowns are spare, uncanny dark compositions, while Caravan Girl and Happiness shine with a bouyancy that marries the subdued vibe to celebratory pop, if just a little bit. Ultimately, Allison is a pleasure to listen to even in the space where she floats right through your head.
n,20 June, 2008 - 17:20 — George Booker