So the last time I talked about Goldfrapp, I talked about Black Cherry. And there was this interesting review of the album I came across that summarized it as “a soundtrack to excruciatingly banal seduction.” That review came from Pitchfork (ha) so take it with a grain of salt.
I admitted that it wasn’t their best (or worst) so what is their best? Personally, I feel like it’s a tie between Tales of Us and this week’s subject, Supernature. (It’s hard to pick one over the other because they’re so different. Apples to oranges, for sure, and I’m not just saying that.) If Black Cherry was an “excruciatingly banal seduction” then its follow up is certainly a more successful one. Supernature is a far superior album to its predecessor (which I still like!). Its sound is more consistent, more accessible, and overall, the production is just superb. The tracks flow from one to the next just perfectly.
We start with the FANTASTIC opener that is “Ooh La La,” the group’s first song to use an electric guitar. Which was definitely the right decision. It gives the song it’s rough, slightly dirty feel. This track is straight to the point. It’s simply seductive, through and through. There’s no question what Alison means when she croons “Switch me on/Turn me up.” Some of my favorite lines include “Teasing your poetry” and “A broken heel like a heart,” which I read somewhere that she wrote when she read about how Marilyn Monroe supposed broke one heel on every pair of shoes she owned so that when she walked, the swaying of her hips would be more pronounced. I would normally find a video like this one underwhelming (I’ve spoken before about my views on the music video as an art form) but I kind of enjoy the blend of disco fashion and glam rock stylings. Plus, Alison just looks so damn good. I do wish they had done more with it though.
“Lovely 2 C U” keeps up the dirty sound with more electric guitar. I love the distorted sound that comes in at about 2 minutes. Sooooo dirty. And I don’t mean dirty in a perverted way (well, maybe a little) but just…gritty. A dirty sound so in stark contrast to Alison’s clear, ringing vocals. Favorite lyrics: “The glittering lights of Hell/I’m missing sin.” Oh my, yes.
And how could I miss a chance to write yet again about “Ride a White Horse”??? GOD, I love this music video. I don’t know how anyone will ever make a better music video. I just go nuts when I think about it. It’s easily my favorite, and I’m including all of Björk’s work. I KNOW. Guh, anyway, what can I say that I haven’t said before? It’s a great track. I get pumped every time that opening beat comes on. Favorite lyrics: “I want blisters/You’re my leader” and “In the whirlpool/We’ll go deeper/In this world that’s/Getting cheaper.” I feel like the music video may be a nod to those last two lines.
So the next track is “You Never Know” and I feel like this was the song that was playing when I was driving my parents somewhere and they said she sounded like a mermaid. She does. She sounds like a siren and this song makes you feel like you won’t care if you drove your car off a cliff to reach her on the other side (the modern day equivalent to sailing your ship into the rocks, I guess). I love how it’s very stop and go in the beginning. It’s got this very steady rhythm that just picks you up and sways you back and forth. So graceful.
The album eases into “Just Let It Take U,” which is a nice respite. It’s like a song you would meditate to. Or post-coital snuggle to. I think both would be the same for a Goldfrapp fan. It’s heavenly and surreal. And yet it fits in with the theme-sound of the rest of the album. A soft electric beat pulses throughout, keeping you anchored to the song, as Alison croons dreamily.
I remember hearing “Fly Me Away” in a Target holiday-themed commercial. Kind of a weird place to use it, but I liked it enough at the time. It does have a wintery sound to it (in spite of the “Miles and miles of sun” line). It’s also very playful, happy, and innocent, even with Alison’s breathy vocals.
“Slide In” is probably the most on-the-nose track. Well, second to “Ooh La La,” considering how forward THAT one was. But read that title again. “Slide In” sounds like something that would have been on Black Cherry. I love the way the song stretches out every time she sings “Sliiiide in.” In general, I just love songs that manage to aurally match the lyrics, and this song does it!
“Koko” is probably my least favorite track on this album. Which isn’t to say I don’t like it. It just doesn’t do much for me. It’s still a well-rounded, well-produced track, so I’ll give it that!
“Satin Chic” was described by Goldfrapp as being their favorite track off of this album. I like it a lot too! The honky-tonk piano fits perfectly with the song. It gives it this cabaret feel. I can’t get enough of it! Something about it reminds me of flappers. I can’t explain it. I guess it has something to do with that piano-cabaret feel. Favorite lyrics: “Lip gloss bold as blood.”
We get another respite before heading into the finale with “Time Out From The World,” a song that sounds just like that. It’s soft and dreamy, like “Just Let It Take U” but not as minimal. It’s got a foggy, yawning sound to it. Very soothing. Maybe not so post-coital though, as it features some sensual sighing toward the end. Favorite lyrics: “We changed the world, just you and I/I make a shrine for you.”
The closing track is “Number 1,” a very pleasant song full of longing with just a touch of sadness. Not boo-hoo-I’m-going-to-cry-this-is-so-tragic sadness, but it’s-a-shame-this-won’t-last-but-I’m-going-to-enjoy-it-anyway sadness. Because that’s what this song is about. With lines like “You’re my favorite moment/You’re my Saturday” and “Sunset only seconds/Just right then it’s gone,” Alison pines about loving someone while knowing (and accepting) that it probably won’t last forever. Maybe sad is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like “Let’s just enjoy this while it lasts, yeah?” Carpe diem. The music video is clearly inspired by the line “I’m like a dog to get you.” (Also, how sexy is Alison acting like a dog? I’m including the part where she scratches her rear like a dog would, but with her hand instead of her foot.)
BONUS!!! If you have the bonus track version of the album, you get “Beautiful,” a lovely, seductive song. “Number 1” makes a better closing track, but this one is still a great add-on.
If you’re a first time Goldfrapp-listener, go for Supernature! It’s a super smart pop/electronica album (if you don’t like the slightly snootier, more specific labels of electroclash and synthpop, because that’s what it really is). I don’t like to use the phrase “It’s a thinking person’s [X]” for the reason that [X] is implied to be stupid, banal, and lesser. And it makes you sound like a pompous, stuck-up ass. But…if I WERE to use that phrase, I’d say Goldfrapp is a thinking person’s Madonna. I still like Madonna. I would just take Supernature or anything Goldfrapp in general over anything Madonna has (or possibly still will) put out any day. ANY DAY.