ou have to admit it, Alison Goldfrapp sure seems like a classy lady. That lovely, silky, shrieking voice on Felt Mountain was pretty fucking dreamy. Then, there’s her ultra tasteful sense of fashion, with her always draped in something sexy, cute or just damn cool for her own good. Well, I actually question her classiness not because of this new album, but because of what she pulled at a show in Toronto in late 2001. Her vocal chords were suffering, though you weren’t able to tell by the six songs she delivered. After a comment from someone in the audience, the pampered prima donna threw her glass of wine in the crowd and walked offstage, never to be heard from again...until now.
Since witnessing such an event, Goldfrapp hasn’t been very active in my playlist rotation. With Black Cherry, her second album, comes a lot of doubt for me, considering I was not left thinking much of her as a serious artist. However, Ms. Goldfrapp, or just Goldfrapp, as she likes it, has redeemed herself with a record that doesn’t follow the sound of her last album as much as reinvent a new one.
At first, with the opening seconds of “Crystalline Green”, Goldfrapp has assumed the identity of a Kraftwerk robot, using thick and heavy synths and a pulsating rhythm. The lush, fantasy world of Felt Mountain is no longer present. Instead, Goldfrapp has introduced us to a setting of extravagance and electronics, while maintaining her intriguing persona. As the single “Train” kicks in, the work of Goldfrapp and cohort Will Gregory shows more of its teeth, taking a sound more akin to Add N To (X). Slick, rich and rather adventurous, the song sounds like it something off Add Insult To Injury, but with a human quality to it.
The change in atmosphere carries on consistently throughout Black Cherry. “Twist” is a proper disco tune that seeps electro and sounds like it could have been written for Kylie. Luckily though, Goldfrapp does the job herself, showing just how much of a dancing siren she can be. The following “Strict Machine” does a little more of the same, but with more of an 80s, German vibe to it. In fact, the only track that manages to present familiar territory for listeners is the tender title track. Classic sounding and beautiful, it’s easily the most emotional song on the record.
There is no over the top vocal performance by Goldfrapp or any of those strange noises that helped carry Felt Mountain. Instead, Black Cherry is very contemporary and extremely good at updating the duo’s sound. As a comeback album, it is very satisfying, but not as special as its predecessor.
Reviewed by: Cam Lindsay
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01