Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Goldfrapp-Tales-of-Us-2013-1200x1200

Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp were never going to give us something we expected. In their fourteen year, six album, career they have constantly reinvented themselves and on the way, if they haven’t actually created the genre they most probably provided us with the definitive benchmark of how it should sound. The only exception to that rule was their last album, Head First, which lacked the emotional depth of their previous output. Tales of Us however, finds them back in full effect and in many ways this album takes us full circle by rekindling the essence of their first album.

The tracks on the album are all, bar one, named after people. The Album starts with Jo which has a simple arrangement layered with sparse strings and harp. The second, Annabel, one of the more instantly striking tracks, relates the story of a hermaphrodite who was forced to live as a boy. It has also been released alongside a short film which you can see here. The overall impression of this record is subtly cinematic, themes of Ennio Morricone crop up in places, Stranger for example, the soundtrack of which serves as a sumptuous backdrop for Alison Goldfrapp’s vocal. Hints of the pastoral also emerge, reminding us of the shimmering folk melodies from their fourth LP, The Seventh Tree. Will Gregory’s instrumentation is exquisite throughout and the pared-back nature of the arrangement serves only to highlight the astonishing range and quality of Alison’s voice.

All in all this release is a pleasant surprise. After the last record which left fans wondering where they could go, they have managed to deliver a piece of work which will stand up to the test of time and repeated listening.

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Why So Pale and Wan?

This is a record which was never going to set your pulse racing. In fact it is far more suited for wafting round the house or for suffering from a nasty dose of unrequited love. The landscapes of the London trio’s first album are certainly starkly beautiful yet the lyrics show us far darker places. The album starts with a minor discord before singer/guitarist Ellena Tonra’s soothing voice lulls us and deceives us, ‘I needed you to run through my veins like disease’. There is a resonance of Florence in that first track, Winter, which thankfully this fails to re-appear in the rest of the album. Tonra’s voice is far more fragile and subtly haunting than that.

The album’s instrumentation which comprises of Elena and Igor Haefeli’s shimmering guitars and Remi Aguilella’s suppressed drumming is mostly shrouded in reverb and it is not until the eighth track that we hear anything as prosaic as a snare drum. This is all well and good but sometimes you just want them to let go and reward you with something normal like a crash cymbal (one that isn’t going backwards that is). This is especially true with Youth, which is probably the strongest track on the album but one which finally disappoints when it builds and builds but doesn’t quite deliver the goods in the end.

I really like this album, it is beautiful and I will play it a lot. But you get the impression there are some much bigger songs that want to get out.