Goldfrapp – Supernature

After the enormous cult success of Felt Mountain (2000) and their first dabblings in the world of commercial pop with the sublime Black Cherry (2003), Supernature was Goldfrapp‘s third album, and remains their most commercially successful to date. Now that it’s exactly a decade old, this seems a good opportunity to reappraise it.

Supernature draws very heavily on the glam-electro side of Black Cherry, and does so with gusto. From the first track Ooh La La, you can immediately hear that they’ve found a whole lot of energy somewhere and channelled it into this album. What it lacks somewhat in places is the beauty of previous releases – ultimately there’s no Hairy Trees or Utopia here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as Lovely 2 C U grabs you by the ears and gives you a very firm shake.

There’s little sign of the energy dissipating with third single Ride on a White Horse. It should be clear by now what the album is going to be, although for a moment it seems as though You Never Know might be the closest we’ll get to a downtempo moment here. The dark, grimey synth sounds are out in abundance – until Let it Take You, anyway. But sadly the one that actually serves as the slow number doesn’t quite seem to match the high standards set by the preceding two albums.

Final single Fly Me Away picks things up wonderfully, and the electro noises have been toned down too – they’re not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but the break feels good. Ten years on, though, it’s hard not to feel Supernature might have been a little bit over-the-top.

Which is not to say the quality lapses at any point – both Slide In and Koko are great, but it’s difficult to view them objectively when you’ve already listened to half an hour of similar sounds. The exception is the glorious Satin Chic, which truly stands out as the best song on the album, as its honky tonk piano sounds propel it ahead of all its peers. For a long time, it was rumoured as a possible single, but ultimately that was never to be, and that’s definitely a shame.

The lovely, almost symphonic Time Out from the World leads us gently towards the end of the curiously both brilliant and flawed masterpiece which is Supernature. The final track is Number 1, which closes proceedings rather nicely in uptempo fashion.

As a postscript, the US version – released a few months later – also gets the b-side Beautiful, which seems a regrettable omission from the original album. It’s difficult to criticise, as the album seems a little too packed as it is, but Beautiful is a beautiful song, and really ought to be on here.

So Supernature really isn’t perfect – but it does contain a lot of great hit singles or potential hit singles, and with this Goldfrapp did, for a while, have a significant impact on the charts, with other acts drawing heavily from their sound. So, imperfect as it may be, listening to Supernature on its tenth anniversary has to be a good thing.

You can find the original UK or US releases of Supernature at all major retailers.

Music for the Masses 34 – 2 March 2005

For the second week running, the webcam was refusing to take pictures during this show. It did see a brief return of the Unsigned Act slot, with an entry from Subculture, and the many-talented William Orbit was the Artist of the Week.

Show 34: Wed 2 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: William Orbit.

  • Gotan Project – Época
  • Rob Dougan – Furious Angels
  • Depeche Mode – I Feel Loved
  • The Space Brothers – Forgiven
  • Energy 52 – Café del Mar
  • Apollo 440 – Astral America
  • William Orbit – Via Caliente
  • Peach – From This Moment On
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Je Me Souviens
  • Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls (DJ Hell Remix)
  • Subculture – Dead in the Day (Demo) [Unsigned Act]
  • Erlend Øye – Every Party Has a Winner and a Loser
  • William Orbit – Million Town
  • Kraftwerk – Expo 2000 (Kling Klang 2002 Mix)
  • Manu Chao – Bongo Bong
  • Erasure – Don’t Say You Love Me
  • LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is Playing at My House
  • Wolfsheim – Wunderbar
  • Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme
  • William Orbit – Satie’s Ogive #1
  • Bent – The Waters Deep

Chart for stowaways – 1 August 2015

As the charts liven up somewhat since the recent reshuffle, here are the top ten albums:

  1. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
  2. Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?
  3. The Future Sound of London – Environment Five
  4. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  5. MG – MG
  6. Camouflage – Greyscale
  7. Moderat – II
  8. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
  9. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Electric

Beginner’s guide to Annie

Norwegian singer Annie has only released a couple of albums, and neither was even that successful outside her home country, but somehow she established herself as one of the best pop singers of the 2000s.

Key moments

Her biggest hits were Chewing Gum and Heartbeat from her debut album Anniemal.

Where to start

Start with Anniemal (2004) and get to know her when she was just starting out.

What to buy

Second album Don’t Stop (2009) is nearly as good as the first, but inexplicably doesn’t include the one-off Anthonio from the same year. Track down both.

Don’t bother with

Do bother with both albums and a few other odd bits. There isn’t anything particular you need to avoid.

Hidden treasure

Definitely track down Anthonio if you haven’t already, and Back Together from 2013’s A&R EP is brilliant too.

For stowaways

Garbage – Garbage

A couple of years ago I wrote about Garbage‘s second album Version 2.0 (1998) to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary and found myself impressed by its consistency, but generally underwhelmed by its content. Their first album does include some of their biggest hits, so it must be better, surely?

Debut Garbage (1995) opens with the unremarkable but grungy Supervixen, setting the scene for a patchy and occasionally great album. Garbage meld together many styles, including pop, synthpop, grunge, and whatever else you want to add to the list. They’re definitely at their best when they tick all the boxes, and Queer does exactly that. Speaking of which, even Queer would have been a better album title than Garbage – but they never really got the hang of good album titles.

Another of the big hits follows, Only Happy When it Rains. This was the first of the big hits in the UK, just sneaking into the top thirty, and sets a good blueprint for what Garbage would be like at their best. It’s a great pop song, and if you ignore the first track, this album is looking pretty promising.

But nothing else really grabs you in the same way for the next fifteen minutes or so. As Heaven is Wide is good enough, and you might well nod your head or tap your feet to the manic rhythm, but it totally lacks any sort of memorable chorus, which is an important oversight. Not My Idea is almost entirely lacking in anything noteworthy.

A Stroke of Luck has a surprising melancholy, which makes it a little more compelling than some of the earlier songs, but it still doesn’t quite grab you in the way you might hope. And then Vow, which was their debut single, scraping into the lower reaches of a few worldwide charts. It might have grabbed some people’s imaginations at the time, but in all honesty there isn’t a whole lot to it.

Then – finally – comes their biggest hit single, the hugely iconic Stupid Girl, which just overflows with attitude and energy in a way that nothing else really has so far. They clearly pulled all the stops out here, even if they dropped the ball somewhat on some of the other entries.

Things fall apart again for the next few songs. Dog New Tricks is really trying to be something, but the ridiculous title lets it down and it just comes across as meaningless. My Lover’s Box starts off promisingly, but doesn’t really build into much. And Fix Me Now is completely forgettable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all entirely listenable, but some tracks really grab you more than others.

By this stage we’ve reached the last track with very mixed feelings. But it’s Milk, the final single from the album, and possibly the best song on here. Its soft and gentle backing is perfect, and Shirley Manson‘s vocal comes together with the synths perfectly. They pulled all the stops out again here. What a way to finish an album!

Ultimately Garbage is a good enough debut, but sets Garbage up very much as a singles band. The follow-up may well have been more consistent, but it also lacked the charm that the big hits brought the first time around.

You can still find Garbage through all major retailers, such as here.

Music for the Masses 33 – 23 February 2005

Unfortunately the webcam wasn’t working this week, leaving us with very little documentary evidence of the show. Artist of the week was my long-time favourite act The Beloved, and other highlights included oddities from White Town and The Postal Service.

Show 33: Wed 23 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: The Beloved.

  • Mylo – Valley of the Dolls
  • Robert Miles – Children
  • Olive – Miracle (Radio Mix)
  • Röyksopp – Poor Leno
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Enigma – The Eyes of Truth
  • The Beloved – Time After Time
  • Tony di Bart – The Real Thing (Joy Brothers Remake)
  • Sarah Cracknell – Anymore
  • The Shamen – Xochipili’s Return
  • Deep Forest – Yuki Song
  • The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
  • White Town – Duplicate
  • Fluke – Atom Bomb
  • Orbital – The Saint
  • The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes
  • Dario G – Sunchyme
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity
  • The Beloved – A Dream within a Dream
  • Bent – Sunday 29th

Chart for stowaways – 11 July 2015

The charts have become a little lively since the chart rejig, so this week’s singles look like this. There’s lots of “bad”!

  1. Röyksopp – I Had This Thing
  2. Jean Michel Jarre – Remix EP (I)
  3. The Beloved – Love to Love
  4. Moderat – Bad Kingdom
  5. Leftfield – Bad Radio
  6. Röyksopp – Sordid Affair
  7. Hot Chip – Move with Me
  8. Jean Michel Jarre – Watching You
  9. Moderat – Last Time
  10. Lykke Li – Just Like a Dream