May 1, 2003

Goldfrapp: Not as Solid as Gold

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It’s cool to be a little freaky. Or at least Alison Goldfrapp seems to think so on her band’s sophomore endeavor Black Cherry. The album’s liner notes say it all, featuring the British singer flaunting scarred legs and high-heeled ruby red slippers that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz might wear if she became a Las Vegas prostitute.

Black Cherry is a collection of funky beats mixed with Goldfrapp’s airy voice moaning sexual innuendos (“touch my garden”) and bizarre imagery(“Wolflady sucks my brain”). The trippy opening cut “Crystalline Greene” features whispery vocals over strip-club rhythms and sets the mood for the rest of the CD.

Many of the songs are dominated by bright techno music; the beginning of “Tiptoe” sounds like something right out of those old video games you used to play on the original Nintendo system. The group (which consists of singer Goldfrapp and synth-player Will Gregory) combines ’80s new wave with postmodern computerized pop to create a sound that flows well with Goldfrapp’s voice.

The album is lyrically eccentric; most of Goldfrapp’s words seem like random metaphors thrown together in an attempt to create some kind of meaning (or, more likely, really have no meaning at all). In “Train,” the singer spouts “nasal douche/ poolside line/ softlit tan/ what’s your sign?” A nasal douche, huh? I’m not even going to touch that one. Goldfrapp also likes to show her sexually perverted side. In the upbeat and fun “Twist” she suggests “Before you go and leave this town/ I want to see you one more time/ Put your dirty angel face between my legs.” The vocalist seems to have no reservations, and, as the music reflects, no concern for the mainstream and what’s considered to be acceptable and popular.

Though the band’s band definitely possesses its own sound, it uses that unique sound too often, and the result is quite a few tracks that are not discernable from one another. “Crystalline Greene” is too much like “Strict Machine,” with Goldfrapp singing in nearly the same tone. The somber title song, in which the vocalist seems to struggle over her lines, has the same overall mood as “Forever,” making the two songs seem interchangeable with one another. The tendency for much of the CD to sound so similar leads to an album that, while exhibiting the band’s musical abilities, doesn’t really leave much of a memorable impact on the listener.

Black Cherry is an entertaining effort from a duo who has become known for their blending of different musical sounds. While there is a lot of repetition, the sound Goldfrapp and Gregory produce is an interesting and fun listen despite the sometimes annoyingly dumb lyrics. Unless of course you have some clue at to what a nasal douche is.

Archived article by Ariel Ronneburger