Bold is the band that fixes what’s not broken. British electronic duo Goldfrapp does precisely that throughout their discography, developing a polished sound only to discard it on the next album. While this might make it difficult to culture a consistent fan base, it also provides a rich body of work with something for just about everybody.
Their first album, Felt Mountain, takes most of its cues from the past. Alison Goldfrapp’s brassy, torch singer vocals take the forefront, set to rich, swelling instrumentals that sound somewhere between acid jazz and a James Bond theme song. Standout moments from this album are the trippy opener, “Lovely Head,” and the sexy slow burner, “Pilots.”
Their next two albums centered Goldfrapp in a more accessible and club-ready sound. Their craft is still in top form, though, cranking out danceable hits better than most of their contemporaries. Highlights “Train” and “Strict Machine” on Black Cherry keep a punky, electroclash current running under the absolutely filthy synths and drum machines.
On Supernature, Goldfrapp’s most successful single and album opener, “Ooh La La,” eases the listener into a diverse landscape of electronic experimentation. “Ride a White Horse” and “Slide In” keep the electroclash from Black Cherry alive, while “Let It Take You” and “Number 1” harken back to the sensual moments from Felt Mountain, sprinkling a little sweetness along the way.
With their fourth album, Goldfrapp takes a radical turn by way of chilling out. After years of singing about heroin and discos, Seventh Tree is Goldfrapp’s “coming down” album. Slowed down, but never slow, tracks like “A&E” and “Little Bird” provide a lush, full sound, while “Clowns” and “Some People” strip away all the pretense for an electronic folk vibe.
Their most recent album, Head First, came out in 2010, when 80s music was having a renaissance. Goldfrapp tackled some of the trickiest territory from that period to navigate: campy, self-indulgent pop that never pretends to be anything else. Again, Goldfrapp excels at what they set their mind to. The first three tracks alone, “Rocket,” “Believer,” and “Alive,” are all genius examples of joyous, easy pop that will get stuck in your head for days.
Goldfrapp is prepping their sixth album for a late summer release. What direction will they take next? It’s impossible to say, but one can safely assume it will be new territory for the duo, and they’ll master that territory with their trademark flair.