Goldfrapp - Tales of Us

The electro duo veer a little more towards the organic on this far-out effort.

It’s shocking how Goldfrapp have managed to lead a double life over the past decade, ditching electronics (‘Supernature’, ‘Black Cherry’) for acoustics (‘Felt Mountain’, ‘Seventh Tree’) almost at random, without ever losing their evidently dependable fanbase.

On ‘Tales of Us’, their first album in three years, the acoustic guitar and string sections are back wearing First Team Colours. So inevitably, this is gentle stuff, not exactly a shock to the system, and not far from ‘Seventh Tree”s lackadaisical chill. Appropriately, the overarching feeling is that of profound intimacy. But there’s also a sense of far-out spirituality, in that one central character connects all the songs, yet the characters assumed by the individual songs each occupy their separate worlds. We’re taken on a journey through wistful longing, alienation and self-reflection, but then out of melancholy and into a sense of eminent positivity. We move from city-dwelling urbanites like ‘Jo’ to nature’s lovers like ‘Thea’.

But how exactly does this all work? Although the group’s two sounds have always been so different in feel and tempo, something inherent blurs the lines: lead singer Alison and her powerful, intoxicating chant. ‘Tales Of Us’ is driven by this powerhouse of hers, all coaxing charm and faded warmth. The Sandy Denny-like folk ballad ‘Alvar’ is an outright epic, up there with the best of the duo’s back catalogue, whilst throbbing, dreamy number ‘Thea’ proves the most stirring of the rest. Not even to mention beautiful single ‘Drew’. In short, the arrangements here are certainly accomplished, but it’s still that voice which makes the whole thing glow.

Tags: Goldfrapp, Reviews, Album Reviews

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