Review of The Singles Album by Goldfrapp

Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have been providing us with perfectly pitched high quality pop for nearly thirteen years now. Their output has always been extraordinarily reliable and has evolved through time to seemingly be just that much further forward than the mainstream, making them both interesting, pioneering and influential. They may not be as well known as the household names they have laid a musical path for but they have certainly been responsible in aiding the breakthrough of many of today's more high profile acts.

Goldfrapp The Singles Album

Without the polished Glam electro pop that Goldfrapp have brought us it would be difficult to imagine the evolution and acceptance of such acts as Lady Gaga, Scissor Sisters, La Roux, Marina, Ladyhawk (...and so on and so on) or for that matter witness the musical direction afforded such global phenomena as Glee! Their overall contribution to such a plethora of musicality may be only subtle, even tenuous, but it never-the-less exists. The pop world is a better place with Goldfrapp in it and this singles collection is a celebration of some of their finest moments.

When heard in their entirety the twelve singles, and two new cuts, serve as a reminder, if any where needed, of just how consistent they have been. There is not a flawed, weak, dud single on the album. This is joyous, proper, unadulterated, infinitely pleasurable pop with absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, it sets a benchmark for its contemporaries and shows that there can be a balance found in commerciality, credibility and great, enduring, pop tunes.

'Ooh La La', the bands biggest hit to date is a fitting opener to the album. Taken from the band's 2005 Grammy Nominated third album 'Supernature' it is the embodiment of much of what the band are all about. Alison's smouldering vocals are a beautiful thing in themselves but when set against such great hooks and stunning synth loops they just take the band's music into another dimension altogether. If you're not jumping around your bedroom and singing along (Or at least tapping your feet vigorously for the older ones in the audience) by the first chorus then clearly you've had some sort of Vulcan pleasure bypass that needs seriously looking at. 'Number 1' follows on with the Donna Summer flavoured brilliance of 'Strict Machine' pulsating away directly afterwards. The 'Black Cherry' culled track is a gloriously sexy piece, masterfully combining dirty dance floor beats and heavenly vocals all set to a scuzzy bass line.

Goldfrapp's first album is represented here by the two singles taken from the 2000, Mercury short listed, album 'Felt Mountain'. Both 'Lovely Head' and 'Utopia' have less pace and more of an ambient feel. Alison, fresh from here days with Trcky and Orbital, and Will, not long from working on cinematic soundtracks, are both quite a far removed pair from the duo we know today. It is interesting to note the musical development and lineage of the band. The more flamboyant, extroverted performers have evolved through time and their music now has more of an immediacy but has lost none of its allure. 'Happiness', but especially 'A&E', from 2008's hugely successful 'Seventh Tree', superbly capture the essence of the original band but at the same time show how they have progressed their sound in such a highly effective and fascinating way. They have not become trapped or lead by chart position or sales but instead seem to have benefited from that by their continuous, unwavering, evolution. 'A&E' also highlights wonderfully well a little appreciated part of the couples prowess; namely that as well as producing catchy, well crafted, shimmering pop tunes they can also write a good lyric along the way...."I'm in a backless dress on a pastel ward that's shining, Think I want you still but it may be pills at work."

Up tempo numbers dominate the third quarter of the album. 'Train' thunders along before the divine notes of the sublime 'Ride A White Horse' pump the air. Alison's almost suggestive vocal nuances slide in and out of the track as the Disco beat permeates the song. Notable as another of Goldfrapp's tunes to benefit from the additional compositional credit with Nick Batt it showcases just how hot they can be. Even the light, almost throwaway, 'Rocket' and 'Believer' from the bands last album 'Head First' are testimony to the bands capability of making lasting, uncomplicated, tremendously enjoyable pop tunes.

The album is closed out by the new, previously unreleased, tracks 'Yellow Halo' and Melancholy Sky'. Both tracks were written especially for the release of this singles compilation, and both are worthy inclusions. With a nod towards their more ambient beginnings Yellow Halo is a measured and subtle slice of smooth synth pop whilst Melancholy Sky is a more brooding and introspective tune that melts away and washes over you in waves of pure tranquil, string laden, soaring

Goldfrapp; The Singles is a stunning collection of songs that brings together some of the bands best work in one neat package. Taken from a career to date that has seen them release five albums it serves as a fantastic reminder of just how good they are, how consistent they have been and above all what cracking tunes they have given us. Long may their glitter ball revolve.


Andrew Lockwood.

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