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Goldfrapp Supernature Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Given how gorgeous most of Supernature is, those who relished the gleeful sexuality...

Jack Smith 2003

It's OK Computer syndrome all over again. Just as that slightly disappointing album ended up reaping the rave reviews that rightfully belonged to the brilliant The Bends, so critics are falling over themselves to give Supernature the rabid praise that Black Cherry unfortunately failed to get at the time.

Understandable, given how gorgeous most of this record is, but those who relished the gleeful sexuality and lurching electronic oddity of Black Cherry may well find Goldfrapp's third album oddly polite and safe.

The perversity of old has been smoothed out. Whilst "Ooh La La" confidently struts its electro-glam stuff it still smacks of coy sauciness where once there was wantonness. That said, it's a gut punch of an opener, and followed by the similarly brilliant "Lovely 2 C U", all jabbing synths and the kind of ecstatic vocal acrobatics that underline how Alison Goldfrapp is the most assured and versatile pop vocalist of her time.

But it's beats song "Ride A White Horse" which troubles, with its airbrushed, fussy disco throb and studied references to dance floors and Studio 54 decadence. Like the later "Fly Me Away", it may sound like a big radio hit but it also sounds calculatedly designed to be so. And Goldfrapp always seemed too contrary for that.

The band are at their best when pursuing their more oddball instincts, as displayed on the demented "Satin Chic". Built on a polka rhythm, off kilter keyboards and a purring vocal, it's one of the oddest and most addictive things you'll hear this year.

Even a ballad as lovely as "U Never Know" is forged out of disjointed, unsettling synths that add to its mood of confusion and loss.

Stylish and accomplished though Supernature undoubtedly is, these moments of gasp inducing surprise are rarer than they used to be in Goldfrapp. Hopefully the mainstream fame this album seems designed to deliver will give the band the confidence they need to get back to what they do best: discovering new, bizarre and beautiful musical worlds.

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