Review Summary: If you like either dancing or sex, you will like this,
Goldfrapp took another step into disco. Whilst their second album, Black Cherry is generally recognised as the duo’s entry into the danceable realms of electronic, it wasn’t a good album as a consequence of being so. Sure, Strict Machine
are highlights of their disco era, but it was in its more atmospheric moments such as the title track, Hairy Trees
that Black Cherry really struck gold. Train
, Deep Honey
become repetitive and somewhat tedious when one hears them in a context other than the dance floor, rendering their sensual appeal overstated. In this context it might raise eyebrows that on Supernature, Goldfrapp chose to accentuate the energetic, dance-inducing aspects of their sound despite the fact that they clearly had stronger strings to their bow, as their haunting debut Felt Mountain and the softer moments of Black Cherry had shown.
Surprisingly enough, it worked. It’s hard to pin down exactly why – maybe it’s because they took the sensual overtones that were already seeping out of Black Cherry to another level. Maybe it’s because the beats and hooks became catchier and even more infectious. Maybe it’s because the glam aesthetic and meaty synth tones provide a perfect atmosphere of groove. Or maybe it’s because Alison Goldfrapp’s voice is still captivating and powerful enough to deserve all the praise that a huge range of critics have attached to it. In any case, this is an album that grooves with impeccable catchiness from start to finish, with the exception of the two excellent ballads Let It Take You
and Time Out From The World
. Nearly forty five minutes can seem like a very long time for such a style if it loses any portion of its energy or allure, but Supernature just about manages to keep it up.
This is not to say that it is a flawless outing; the glam-electro style doesn’t quite drag but the extent to which it drives the album often becomes slightly too clear, although this curiously happens more in the middle section than in the final stretch of songs. A very minor criticism is that Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals tend heavily towards bold, seductive crooning rather than the powerfully beautiful softness that worked so well in the past, but the former style works in the favour of the album to the degree that I find this complaint easy to overlook. The lyrics thankfully manage to avoid the awkwardness that sensual descriptions so often create, and are enticing beyond the context of the music that surrounds them.
As Goldfrapp’s most consistent album at this point in time (Black Cherry was obviously inconsistent, and whilst Felt Mountain was generally excellent, Pilots
, Deer Stop
and Horse Tears
stood on another level to the other tracks), it is perhaps imprudent to pick standouts. However, opener and successful single Ooh La La
is the most upbeat piece of music Goldfrapp had recorded at the time and embodies almost everything appealing about the album in its seductive romp, Satin Chic
boasts a truly delicious beat and Time Out From The World
is a gorgeous change of pace that succeeds in a similar manner that the astoundingly beautiful title track on Black Cherry did. These aren’t necessarily the best songs, but they’re certainly good places to start.
To be frank I think most people will enjoy this, but especially those who like dancing to any degree whatsoever. It’s fun, catchy, well-written and easily strong enough as an insightful statement of sexuality and sensuality to exist in a sphere beyond that of banal music made exclusively to get loose to. The grooviest parts of Black Cherry make me wish I was out dancing so that I could enjoy them more. The grooviest parts of Supernature make me feel like I’m already there, and that makes all the difference.