GOLDFRAPP - Seventh Tree

'Join Our Group And You Will Find
Harmony And Peace Of Mind'

- Happiness, Goldfrapp

ADDENDUM - 28th February 2008

The Deluxe version of the album is well worth getting as it contains a sweet little booklet of lyrics, postcards, poster, album credits and a special DVD which contains the promo for A&E, a Q&A and a short film. Having heard the album properly mastered now my opinion of it hasn't changed. In fact, I appreciate it even more. The strings and acoustic work are much more audible and there are lots of lovely twiddly electronic noodlings reinforcing the influence of artists such as Nick Drake, Kate Bush, Serge Gainsbourg as well as the psychedelia of XTC, The Strawbs and Pink Floyd. Recommend headphone listening to get all the nuances. Lyrically, many of the songs seem to talk about disastrous relationships, selling your soul for happiness and all consuming love. And the stunning string sections are conducted by that library music master Nick Ingman. A beautiful album.

OK. An exclusive for you. All the naysayers out there, you're talking rubbish. The new album from Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory is really just so lovely. For those of you expecting the oompha, oompha, stick it up your joompa glam-electro freak out of 'Supernature' will wonder what the heck is going on. But those of you who've been there since 'Felt Mountain' will quite willingly throw yourself into the big, warm bosom of 'Seventh Tree'.

What you also need to do, bearing the daft as a brush sonic experiments of 'Felt Mountain' in mind, is thrill to how this forms all sorts of connections to English pastoral psychedelia and folk. Then pop a few squashy, fat electronic noises and washes over the whole giddy extravaganza. Yep, let's go back to the barminess of 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', and to Hendrix's backwards tapes and really chill. And it fully materialises with stompy, smile on your face, surrealism on 'Happiness' with its breathy vocals, washes of synth, brass samples, sweet vocal harmonies. If that song doesn't make you want to go out and pick flowers on a bright spring day then you are irredeemable.

What also strikes you is that Alison's vocals are now right up front. It's a great pleasure to listen to them and they are quite rightly showcased on these songs. She's divine on 'Little Bird' and 'Clowns'. And I love that half way through 'Little Birds' it goes mad and plunges into a psychedelic wig-out. Alison is always in your ear with some delicious, treacly entreatments to drag you into the bursting, opening spring flower of the whole album. 'Bring it on, come along, on the road to somewhere' she tempts as Will pops in another great whirl of electronics. Her inflections are part Marc Bolan, part Nick Drake, especially on 'Eat Yourself' with its brittle acoustic guitars embraced by fat washes of synth and an achingly gorgeous string section.

'Some People' a proper ballad, tinted with great piano and strings, and a soaring chorus that cycles in and out of the song is intimate, saturated in atmosphere. It is far away from the cold, glacial, dance electronica of 'Supernature'. I actually think the single 'A&E' isn't the strongest track on the album but it does prepare you for the feel of it all. It's a fine, soulful performance but there's perhaps a bit too much of the confessional about it that just reminds me of all the other Tunstalls, Nashes and Co out there. It's very atypical for Goldfrapp that's for sure.

The highlight is the library music funk, Europop homage of 'Cologne Cerrone Houndini' with its breathy Marlene Dietrich vocals, string stabs, and tingling washes of synthetics that just evoke a has-been movie star hurtling down the autobahn in her limo, the sun glinting off her huge sunglasses. It's pure Goldfrapp, the rising riffs and Alison's yodelling chorus leaping right off 'Felt Mountain'. Bloody gorgeous.

'Caravan Girl' is a jolly romp of a song, bashing percussion, guitars and psychedelic synth washes, part Manic Street Preachers, part Blondie, but with atonal bits and bobs all chucked in and great backing vocals that go all choral at the end. Less distinctive perhaps than its fellow tracks but it fits in with the 'throw the window open and welcome the sunshine mood' that's dominating the album. 'Monster Love' with its backwards bits of synth treatments, rising and falling structure and the sitar-like riffs echo everything from the Beatles to John Foxx's original version of 'Endlessly'.

With this subtle and beautifully constructed work, they have, for me, connected to the English pastoral psychedelia of The Strawbs, Pink Floyd, XTC and the electronic noodlings of Eno and Fripp. It's a solid, thoughtful piece of work and a worthy redefinition of their musical aims. I don't have full access to the lyrical content of the songs so its themes can be only briefly considered. My intention is to add an addendum to this post to slightly expand on them.

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree (Mute - LCDSTUMM280 - Released on February 25th 2008)

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