Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Album Review:
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

(Mute Records, 2008)

Grade: 73%

Seventh Tree
is a beef Twinkie... but I'll come back to that.

Goldfrapp's newest album (out Today) is lyrically average, which I can't honestly fault it for. Like the majority of songwriters, Alison is singularly concerned with the capitalized varieties of Love, Sex, Sexy Love, and Lovely Sex. Fortunately, she has a voice that is sufficiently beautiful to distract the linguistically anal (no pun or hepatitis intended).

Alison's aural partner in profit, Will Gregory, left behind most of the dance club feel in favor of what I can only describe as retro-techno-folk-ambient. Rechno Folbient? In some songs, it's a praiseworthy success! In others, not so much... but it's worth pointing out one little tidbit. Will Gregory has two first names, and I don't approve of that sort of thing.

"Clowns" reminds me of "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow, except infinitely easier to listen to repeatedly. This and the last song may be my favorites from the album. "Little Bird" starts as a lullaby with some refreshingly primal imagery, including crows with mouths for eyes, then ends sounding loosely like an energetic "Meeting in the Aisles"... but with strings.

The chorus of "Happiness" sounds much like a mellower version of the end (near 2:55) of "Selling Jesus" by Skunk Anasie. That song is on the Strange Days soundtrack, along with "Overcome" by Tricky. "Overcome" is originally from the album Maxinquaye, the tour for which was Alison Goldfrapp's first big opening gig. Conspiracy theorists beware.

I've been hard on them, but the first three tracks of Seventh Tree are phenomenally uplifting. They manage to convey that brand of dance music happiness without sounding at all like dance music. Enjoy the feeling, because when Alison's trailing, "Love, real love..." closes "Happiness," you've reached the beef.

Don't get me wrong, beef is good for you. But do you really want beef in your Twinkie? Don't answer that.

I just can't get into the salty center of Seventh Tree. "Road to Somewhere," "Eat Yourself," and "Some People" all feel like slow-dance songs from prom. They get a resounding "meh" from these lips. Let's get to the other side of that flaky yellow snack cake!

"A&E" is a fitting transition layer, and an interesting music video, as long as you don't have a phobia of anthropomorphized plant life. There's a theme in Goldfrapp's music videos. Alison is usually the center of attention, surrounded by dehumanized man-things. Strange.

The strings in "Cologne Cerrone Houdini" are what set it apart, but they seem forced. None-the-less, a good string section serves to embolden the heart and engorge the member. Or maybe I just like orchestral soundtracks a bit too much.

"Caravan Girl" is good, clean gypsy girl-power fun.

It's a close contest between "Clowns" and "Monster Love" for best song of this album. I refuse to decide a winner, but if you pit Seventh Tree's songs against each other in a cock fight, "Monster Love" would still be clucking (if only for that phat techno bass cue). Where the middle songs failed, "Monster Love" succeeds.

But don't do the slow fade out... that's lame.


Gossip♥Grrl said...

I haven't made it through this whole album yet because I got kind of bored...I've tried on two separate ocassions to listen to it. I miss the dancier type stuff with the beatz...and I don't mean the slow dancey.

Girlfriend said...

I thought that was a meat Twinkie... Oh the shame! Oh the desecration! Oh the horror!

Femme Fatale said...

I like to be the center of attention, too, and surrounded by dehumanized manthings.

But then I'm a slut like that.