It’s always a bit of a shock when seemingly new things turn up to celebrate their birthday. Goldfrapp‘s fourth album Seventh Tree is ten years old already – how on earth did that happen?
Having gradually appeared out of nowhere with Felt Mountain (2000), Goldfrapp had reinvented glam electronica with Black Cherry in 2003, and after a couple of years of fighting to break the charts, finally made it with Supernature in 2005. Having made it to the big time, Seventh Tree should have been hard work, but it just sounds so effortless.
It opens with Clowns, a beautifully forested track which was probably recorded in the middle of a wood. It turned up as the fourth single, as a somewhat mundane two-track release backed with an alternative version of Happiness, but it’s a lovely song.
Little Bird is next, another sweet track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the 1960s. Listening now, it’s delightfully analogue after the dark glam of the previous couple of albums, but admittedly it came as a bit of a shock at the time.
Happiness is by far the best track on here, the second single, and while that release would absolutely have been better if Rex the Dog‘s version had made it on, the bouncy video does make up for that. But bluntly, Goldfrapp singles tend to seem a bit thrown together, and so in traditional form, that video actually appears on the Caravan Girl single that followed. All of that aside, this is absolutely one of Goldfrapp‘s finest singles and a standout track – probably the standout track – on this album.
Road to Somewhere is nice, as is Eat Yourself, particularly with the cello work on both of them, but neither is quite up to the high standard set by Happiness. Then Some People is probably the low point on here – I’d be very surprised if you remember it a couple of hours after listening.
Lead single A&E is next, a perplexing choice as opening single, but a pleasant spring-like country song. The semi-orchestral funk of Cologne Cerrone Houdini does fit nicely here though. The bridge hints at some of the warm magic of Felt Mountain, and the chorus is wonderfully catchy.
The third single was Caravan Girl, and that turns up as penultimate track, full of gusto. It’s a good song, but somehow it doesn’t quite seem to deliver after a very promising build through each verse and bridge. Then finally, Monster Love is a sweet and enormous piece full of rippling synths and choral effects. It’s a good closer to a generally strong album.
Four albums in, Goldfrapp had confidently demonstrated an ability to make sweet and lush alpine pop, glam electro, and now orchestral semi-electronic country. Next stop? The 1980s, obviously. But that’s another review for another time.
You can still find Seventh Tree at major retailers.