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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Goldfrapp or Goldcrapp? It's a close call.


A few days ago, one of my closest gal pals sent me an enraged text message regarding a KCRW interview with Alison Goldfrapp. Since this person and I usually agree on such matters, I had to watch the video for myself. And once again my friend was right.

As I've seen in past interviews, the singer once again comes off as a pretentious, affected jerk. Poor Nic Harcourt seems to be grasping for anything that resembles personality or warmth from the interview and regrettably it's nowhere to be found. True, she is suffering from a cold but she also appears to be suffering from bitch-itis as well.

Unsavory personality aside, I've always admired Goldfrapp's music and artistic moxie. It drips unapologetically with art-school pomp while delivering some very memorable songs. So I've been able to overlook the snotty behavior because the actual work was darn good. Until now, that is.

Their latest record, Seventh Tree, is a minimal, airy affair that aims to be a masterpiece but falls tragically short. Long gone are the glam-rock guitars and pulsating beats from Supernature. Floating acoustic instruments are used instead and Miss Goldfrapp's lyrics are front and center. And that's the heart of this record's problem. 
Simplistic and at times just plain dumb, Goldfrapp's shortcomings as a writer have never been so obvious.  If you're going to strip away the glitz and pounding basslines, you better have the balls lyrically to back it up. And you lady are no Bjork or Emilianna Torrini. Lacking any emotional center, the only message Goldfrapp seems to be conveying on Seventh Tree is "Aren't we brilliant and clever?" 
Another issue with the record is that of originality. The public was willing to overlook Supernature's obvious T-Rex influence because it was loud, catchy, and easy to shake your ass to.  But swiping direct moves from the Kate Bush Playbook while yielding such ho-hum results is darn near unforgivable. 

And yet, Seventh Tree has glimpses of pure genius in songs like "Happiness" and "A&E". They're so good it makes you wish the duo would have scrapped the other tracks and went back to the drawing board.

So how do you solve a problem like Alison Goldfrapp? Well, avoiding interviews with her is a good place to start. Blaring The Hounds of  Love in an act of defiance might be a wise move as well. Still, I think I need  to temporarily break-up with Goldfrapp to get the icky taste out of my mouth.

Another friend of mine often reminds me to separate the art from the artist, in order to be objective. But in this case, as both the art and the artist are utterly infuriating, it's a hard task to complete. 

10 comments:

grooviedave said...

WOW I could only get through half the interview before I wanted to punch her. Sure she has a cold. Don't we all have to work when we are sick? This is her job. If I hadn't heard of Goldfrapp before and saw this I would stay away for ever. I also agree with the review of this not so inspired, full of shit version of the band. It makes me think what the hell happened? I like A & E and Happiness they should of made them an E.P. while she took some time off to find a personality better suited for someone in the publics view.

Rick said...

Clearly your opinion is another one of those 'we hopped onboard with Supernature and now we've jumped off again because we just want to shake our asses' .. Goldfrapp expected this to happen when they released Seventh Tree (in stead of chosing to release a 'Supernature Part 2' kinda album) and the more i love them for it !.
Alison is a beautiful modest and rather shy person, specially in a very intimate setting like it was in the KCRW studio with this session.
I suggest you keep shaking your asses to Kylie or Madonna .. win some lose some .. better than playing it safe all the time.

Anonymous said...

pandering to an audience and spouting useless drivel anout "inspiration", "influences" and other crap is just that.
let the music talk...
7T is another chapter in the Goldfrapp story...it is the "music INDUSTRY" that insists artists repeat themselves, especially when they have had a hit.

Andrew said...

I have to say that reading this (and I have, all the way through) and the follow-up comment from 'grooviedave' both make me think that the problem is not with what the band are currently doing but in the posters expectations for that.

Nobody is for one moment saying that every fan has to like everything an artist puts out but to launch such a tirade, both at the people and the music, smacks of something more than simply not liking it. Both of you mention the two singles most like their previous work but isn't that exactly the problem?

This era for them is not simply a repetition of their previous - that would have been the easiest thing to do - but instead they've done what they wanted to. Whether *you* like that or not is far from the most important thing here. If an artist chooses to follow exactly what fans want, or to simply re-treads their previous style, then isn't that taking the lazy safe path that leads to stagnation and boredom for both band and fan ?

As for comments like wanting to punch her, or calling her a "a pretentious, affected jerk", come on guys - is this really the level you can manage? It's cheap, tacky and shows a total lack of consideration, not to mention basic politeness.

That, I'm sure you'll agree, is far worse than simply not liking an artist or their music......

Rick said...

Wow Andrew .. i wish i could express myself as delicately as you can :-).
I'm more of a 'straight to the point with less words' person.
Anyway: well said.
Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Listen to the bloody music, if you think she has an attitude you aint heard nothing.

peachmahoney said...

Hey, the author here. Well, Rick and Andrew we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Seventh Tree is one of those records that splits listeners right down the middle.

Let me clarify a few things.
At no point in my article did I ever say I want Goldfrapp to keep making the same record over and over.I like when artists take risks even when they don't work out. I'm a Bjork fan for crying out loud! In my own opinion, I don't think Seventh Tree is much of a risk because a.) I don't find it terribly original and b.) Felt Mountain was done in a similar vein and done better.

Lastly, I'm sorry if my reaction to her personality rubbed any of you the wrong way. But it was my reaction, warts and all. And she's a big girl with the difficult reputation so she can take it.

Rick said...

Well peachmahoney .. it's a good thing to disagree on an album that indeed does split listeners right down the middle (in this case), but why the 'warts'??. Why do people like you tend to get all personal if they are dissapointed with an album released by a group they loved before?.
If you really feel the urge to give an opinion of the album somewhere: just give your own musical 'point of view' .. tell people what you think of the album .. but leave the personal stuff out of it !.
Alison really is a very nice (and rather shy) person and some people
find your comments on the KCRW interview really offensive !.
Another matter: a (newly) released album doesn't always have to be original or a 'risk' does it ?. For me (and a lot of other people) the album is just a beautiful new album (and even entered the UK album charts at #2 .. but hey, charts and stuff are not all that important really in discussions like these, but if we're talking charts: Bjork hasn't had any significant chart entries at all in past years).
So again: don't get all personal on someone only because you can't shake your ass around to some album you don't like. If that's what you are all about .. go buy 'X' or 'Hard Candy' and Shake until you drop ! :-).
Cheers.

Anonymous said...

alison herself has said many times that interviews are by far one her least favourites things to do as she finds it very difficult to talk about & explain her work & why she does it.

yeah all the interviewer wanted to do was get a little response out of her but he should know thats hes most likely not going to get it. that is just the way alison goldfrapp is whether you like it or not. he wasnt exactly nice to her anyways.

just because you arent thrilled with their new album because it isnt as dance-y as you had hoped & that alison isnt as nicey nice as say, kylie - doesnt mean you should go around calling her names & bad mouthing her for the person she is.

its quite childish if you ask me.

this is all my own opinion though, i am very biased & defensive when it comes to goldfrapp...

Anonymous said...

^ yes, if you were a really such a big fan you should know the way alison reacts when it comes to interviews...

its inevitable when it comes to miss goldfrapp.