I don’t usually bother to write reviews of singles collections. After all, these songs have appeared on albums already and the very purpose of singles — tracks to be heard in isolation — is lost when clubbed together as an ‘album’. But with this singles collection of Brit glamactronica duo Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory collectively known as Goldfrapp, I’ll break my rule just this once.
Why? Well, for one, all Goldfrapp tracks are singles whether in ‘single’ form or one song following another in an album. Let me explain. This CD opens with the wickedly infectious ‘Ooh la la’ from the 2005 album Supernature, a whiplash’n’leather song if there was one. The T Rex-inspired bassline crawls up the leg to reach the well-waisted chorus that sounds more Berlin cabaret than Disco Deewane. Alison’s voice itself is a tease as she rides the heavy Moog synth roilings (look up the meaning, lazy bones!) stirred up by fellow ’Frapp Will. ‘Number 1’, the second single from the same album, comes with the same swirligig without the frenetic pace of its predecessor but with a lush quietness that’s the perfect sound for a close dance after the straddling shoulders stuff of ‘Oh la la’.
More S&M music comes in the form of ‘Strict machine’ from the 2003 album Black Cherry. If there are clues in the way Alison sings “I get high on a buzz/ Then a rush when I’m plugged to you/ I connect/ When I’m flush/ You get love when told what to do,” then by the time she hits the g-spot in the chorus “I’m in love, I’m in love/ I’m in love, I’m in love/ I’m in love with a strict machine”, we recognise the track for what it is: an updated, shined-up homage to Donna Summer’s climax-as-long foreplay classic, ‘I feel love’.
We then go back in time to the more languorous ‘Lovely head’ from Goldfrapp’s 2000 debut album Felt Mountain. With its faraway wailings and string stirrings, this sounds like a soundtrack to Java lamps — with Alison floating about the room and singing like a leftover hippie chick. ‘Utopia’ from the same album has a pixie-song air about it. The future to come is vaguely hinted at in the whispered chorus lines of ‘Fascist baby/ Utopia, utopia.”
Suddenly we screech into ballad mood in ‘A&E’, the single from the 2006 album Seventh Tree. One suddenly finds Goldfrapp out of their leather catsuit playing behind a Sheryl Crow-type big acoustic guitar instead. The folksy-wolksy singalong silliness of ‘Happiness’ follows which almost immediately prompts me to jump to...
...the buzz and gee-whiz of ‘Train’. With the sonic sexual chemistry restored in this single from Black Cherry, I can feel the walls close in again on me as the synth and the drum beats and Alison’s hypnotic voice enforces a strict rhythm method to the return to a happy madness.
We’ve clearly recovered from the arid middle of the CD as we ride on to ‘Ride a white horse’. Put this on loud and your living room will become one helluva club scene — for the 3 minutes 44 seconds duration of the song at least.
‘Rocket’ from the 2010 album Head First sounds too cheesy and dated even as a pastiche of 80s pop-dance music. I stand by what I wrote about it when I reviewed the album in this column in April 2010: “[It] takes its arms and legs (and plunges on the keyboard) from Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ and the rest of the body from a compilation of Heart songs.”
There are two new tracks in this album. I don’t care much for the underwater throbs of ‘Yellow halo’. This sounds an unappealing return to the early organic farmers’ ball, fairy sound of Goldfrapp. ‘Melancholy sky’ too sounds like Alison is singing while twirling in a gown. I’d reckon the value of this CD is worth the earlier tracks that have her and the music dressed in crackling leather.
when you gotha go... In a way it makes sense for Italians to do Goth rock well. After all, it’s really opera with black make-up and mascara. So as I traipse through Milanese veterans Lacuna Coil’s latest album Dark Adrenaline, I expect good things. What I get is Cristina Scabbia singing “Come to me/ Come to me/ I’m waiting for you” in the opening track ‘Trip the darkness’ while fellow vocalist Andrea Ferro almost reaching the same octaves as if he’s being force-fed olive oil. Not much changes through the album. Heavy guitars hoping to serve as antidote to essentially luscious pop. I’m sure though that fans of Twilight movies will think it’s the best thing since Linkin Park.