Gold­frapp cast a dark

Spell

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Sil­ver Eye Gold­frapp (Mute Records) “We’ve never liked re­peat­ing our­selves,” says singer Ali­son Gold­frapp, talk­ing about her lat­est al­bum with Will Gre­gory. Only, that’s not en­tirely true, is it?

Eight al­bums into their ca­reer, and 17 years af­ter their de­but, a def­i­nite pat­tern has emerged. A kind of mu­si­cal tick/tock. On the ‘tick’ we have the con­tem­pla­tive sound­scapes. Felt Moun­tain (2000) pro­vides the pri­mary source, but 2014’s Tales of Us and 2008’s Sev­enth Tree also drink from the same cup. And there’s the ‘tock’, the club-friendly elec­tron­ica. Black Cherry (2003) set the tem­plate with its sleazy synth and whipcrack beats, but it was fol­lowed by the disco glam-rock of Su­per­na­ture (2005) and, now, Sil­ver Eye, al­beit in a more strung out fash­ion.

There is an­other story, too. One that saw their ca­reer start in the indie shad­ows, be­fore chan­nelling the zeit­geist into pop suc­cess. But by the time the big sell­ing Head First (2010) came out, burst­ing with a sac­cha­rine sound that had clearly raided the pop li­brary marked “guilty plea­sures”, there was a def­i­nite sense of the shark hav­ing been jumped; chart glory was be­ing chased a bit too hard.

So, it was a good thing that sub­se­quent re- leases saw them turn off that road and slink back into some­thing more cere­bral.

Sil­ver Eye con­tin­ues that trend. If Head First rep­re­sented Gold­frapp’s sum­mer of love, then Sil­ver Eye is surely their Al­ta­mont fes­ti­val, the 1969 gath­er­ing which many re­gard as the end of in­no­cence of the 1960s. The group’s sunny op­ti­mism has all but faded away into psy­che­delic, noirish in­tro­spec­tion. It’s Black Cherry’s older, more know­ing brother. The one who’s lived life harder, wilder and stranger.

Lyri­cally, there are sev­eral themes that run through­out – the two most promi­nent be­ing “the night” (a time when nor­mal­ity tra­di­tion­ally weak­ens its hold) and “love” – well, the ir­ra­tional, de­ranged kind any­way. It leaves lots to think about, and plenty of great mu­sic to do it to.

While per­haps sag­ging a lit­tle to­wards the end – weighed down by the claus­tro­pho­bic washes of synth – over­all this is a strong al­bum and it com­pli­ments the rest of Gold­frapp’s back cat­a­logue well. Ali­son’s voice still sounds like one of the best things in pop – al­though in this case, we’re def­i­nitely talk­ing about magic of the darker kind.

Joe Heaney

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