Review Summary: Pumping disco beats, throbbing synths, breathy, sensual vocals, and sex. Lots of sex.
Disco saved Goldfrapp. Their first effort Felt Mountain
was immersed in keyboards and backed up by some beautiful orchestral arrangements, but the analogue electro came right around the birth of electroclash, the ‘movement’ it pains me just to talk about. It’s the disco stomps underpinning almost every track on Black Cherry
that drag it out of the mire and thrust it into the far more comfortable arena of sleazy disco-pop.
Forget the sweet debut - this album is the sound of an angel falling from grace and right into someone’s face - case in point: ‘Twist‘
, a catchy, slightly warped track that showcases how the relative innocence of Felt Mountain
has been smashed to pieces by the knowing sexual maturity of Black Cherry
“Put your dirty angel face
Between my legs and knicker lace“
This really is music for the bedroom, and we’re talking less frilly, flowery duvet covers and more sleazy, soiled satin sheets. It’s choc-full of icy electro, I-don’t-care glam stomps, and lyrics chiefly comprised of phrases including words like ‘wet’, ‘warm’, ‘excite’, ‘fingers’ and ‘pert’. The sheer accessibility of most of the album also makes it ideal for the club floor, and tracks like ‘Strict Machine‘
jump out the first time you hear them and demand a dark, sweaty dance floor and their own personal fog of dry ice. Other, starker, harsher-sounding tracks like opener 'Crystalline Green‘
are reminiscent of some Ladytron efforts, while the improbably-named ’Hairy Trees’
joins the pantheon of great ballads that are brilliant purely because of their great simplicity.
And her voice. Oh, that voice. A delicate, seductive whisper, that buoys the tracks up without ever intruding on the electronic effects or pace. Alison Goldfrapp joins The Knife and Ladytron in convincing the listener that electronica sounds so much better with a female voice behind it. She’s never sounded more comfortable with the material. Evocative and sensual when singing lyrics, she nevertheless adds some vocal tics on her own, mostly of the orgasmic over-the-top type, but never so often that she gets annoying. This is particularly noticeable on ‘Slippage‘
which finishes the album on a stern, eerie note, complete with “umms“
from Alison, piercing squeals and loungey, straight-from-outer-space synths.
It’s occasionally disappointing, though. This is mostly down to the dip in quality of the ballads, especially compared to those on Felt Mountain
. ’Hairy Trees’
alone stands proud; ’Deep Honey‘
and the title track are gentle enough, but anonymous, and perhaps slightly too wistful for their own good on this album devoted to decadent dance tracks. This inconsistency only applies to the slowies however; there isn’t a bad, or even mediocre up-tempo number here. So anyone merely after some cool club tunes won’t be disappointed. It’s the people who appreciate longevity or eclectic albums who might have a problem with it. Listened to again and again, the disco thumps do get a little repetitive, while anyone with a dash of sentiment to their nature might long for something with a little more substance and meaning.
It’s icy. It’s oblique. It’s flawed. It’s the sound of a strip-club, it’s the vocals of a seductive temptress, it’s the halfway point between real feeling and shallow sex, and if nothing else, the title should give you a hint as to where this albums’ loyalties lie.
. Come take a bite.