Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree (4 stars)

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

For a woman who has done so much unashamed musical thievery in her time that she would put a gang of Pollock shoplifters to shame, Alison Goldfrapp has always been a bewitching character. In her efforts to distinguish herself from the hordes, she often seems like she's trying very, very hard. Which is what we should expect from our pop stars. Satisfyingly, though, Goldfrapp's contrived façade is a frontage to some quite beautiful music. And album four is no different.

The group's ethereal roots are showing, the fetishistic slap and tickle of Supernature and Back Cherry has been supplanted again for the widescreen glamour of Goldfrapp and Will Gregory's immense debut, Felt Mountain. They've yet to top its ooze and swoon, but equal it here with some trippy, sun kissed, evocative moments like the lazy, hazy brilliance of 'Eat Yourself' and the understated glamour of 'A&E'.

Reminiscent in atmosphere to Air's languid Virgin Suicides soundtrack, where scrupulous attention to detail is presented as effortless frivolousness, Seventh Tree evokes the joyous spirits of Sandy Denny, Burt Baccarach and Gorgio Moroder. The synths pump and bubble happily, while Goldfrapp proves she is more an effective rather than powerful vocal talent. The album is only let down by a couple of plodding moments, the torpid 'Caravan Girl' being the main offender.

The record's cover is Alison Goldfrapp looking at us over her shoulder, the last embers of sunlight glowing on her face before dusk falls: as serene a portrait as you could find. Except she's wearing a kind of pirate hat. Which kind of sums Goldfrapp and this album up: beautiful, compelling and odd.


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