New Goldfrapp shampoo
I had high expectations for ‘Seventh Tree‘ given some of the pre-release hype suggesting – falsely it turns out – that Goldfrapp had returned to the more ethereal landscapes of their first, and best, album ‘Felt Mountain‘. There had also been alot made of Goldfrapp’s musical magpieism – a trait only to my knowledge achieved with any credibility by Daid Bowie – as she ditched the glam-rock-cum-disco kitsch of ‘Supernature‘ in favour of pastoral folk and rustic imagery. Comparisons were made to Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man’s ‘Out of Season‘ and to the perennially influential Wicker Man soundtrack. This falsehood – presumably a marketing ruse compounded by the retro cover imagery – has been perpetuated by music press and customers alike as if no-one has actually listened to the album.
In fact, ‘Seventh Tree‘ sounds very little like this, but continues where some of the more saccharine, airy balladry on ‘Supernature‘ left off, more Cafe Del Mar than Nick Drake. Also bandied about quite liberally is the word “ethereal” – another cliche of music journalism – and the Cocteau Twins have been mentioned. Yes, ‘Seventh Tree‘ all but abandons the stomping euro-pop of the last album, but otherworldly this is not, unless you consider Air or Morcheeba otherworldly. The sad fact is that where Goldfrapp stood out as an exceptional talent in the largely vacuous and sterile genres of trip hop and chill out, they have run out of the very ideas that set them apart from the rest. The result is more the mood of a shampoo advert than the creepy folk suggested by the marketing machine.
Whereas ‘Seventh Tree‘ starts brightly with the agreeably bucolic atmosphere of ‘Clowns’, which has Alison doing a bluesy, decadent vocal in the mold of Beth Gibbons or – dare I say it – Amy Winehouse. The climax of ‘Little Bird’ revolves around some typically monstrous, chiming synths from Will Gregory, but there are not enough rough edges on the rest of the record to satisfy fans of their darker, more experimental output. Thereafter, it’s all Kate Bush without the eccentricity, innocuous and schmaltzy, suitably inoffensive even to pleasure fans of Norah Jones or Dido. It resigns itself to background music and barely put up a fight to work its way back into the consciousness. That career making music for shampoo adverts beckons.