Returning with their first album in four years, British electro-pop duo Goldfrapp pull together the diverging threads of a sound that seems to take on a different form with each new release. The amalgam of their demonstrated knack for dance-floor burners, chill ambience and picturesque folktronica alike results in a steely, locked-in approach that swaps out emotive power for propulsive, mechanized strut that feels like a good trade-off. Though the duo may paint in broad strokes, they do so from a diverse palette without ever falling into pastiche. With cinematic overtones throughout—the duo was, after all, shortlisted for a James Bond soundtrack in the mid-aughts—seventh studio album Silver Eye marks Goldfrapp at their most complex: cohesive and yet widely diverse in their songwriting.

The folky overtones of 2013’s Tales of Us isn’t completely absent here and is instead subtly integrated into the calm from the storm of Silver Eye’s more kinetic moments. Beneath Will Gregory’s shimmering synths and the ominous buzz and deep pulse of “Zodiac Black,” there are hints of the strings and pastoral elements that made their previous album so unique. Alison’s ethereal vocal floats like gossamer over the forceful low-end in a track that calls to mind Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. There are other similarities to Goldfrapp’s contemporaries. “Become the One” possesses all the manipulated, electro-guttural vocals and oddly danceable, dark synth flourishes of Fever Ray, with a central lyric of “Become the one you know you are” serving as a thesis statement for Goldfrapp’s metamorphosis into the sum of its parts.

The impressive blend of light and dark persists throughout much of Silver Eye, but it occasionally gives over to indulgence in one or the other. “Faux Suede Drifter” wafts along as its title suggests, a languid track that may either be an unwanted comedown or an aural balm depending on the listener’s mindset. Alison’s vocals grow their most whispery on the soothing “Beast That Never Was,” but these moments don’t stand out so much as fade into the enjoyable if not compelling soundscape. In “Everything Is Never Enough”—the album’s most James Bond-reminiscent title—the band splits the difference between heavy and light; Alison’s vocals again soar into the stratosphere like a untethered balloon, never forced or belted out, while Gregory uses an almost motorik thrum to propel the song into rare air.

But the faster tracks find Goldfrapp at their most effective, with the deep electro churn of first single “Anymore” opening the album in a dead sprint that immediately informs the listener that the folktronica vibe from the last album has been replaced by a definitive return to synth-pop. The same holds true for “Systemagic,” as a sleek, motoring track that juxtaposes Alison’s airy vocal with a deep, chugging electronic production, while “Tigerman” uses a subterranean low end and ascending synth lines to create an experience both calm and simmering with portent.

Silver Eye may not be the most unique Goldfrapp album, but it stands a good chance of going down as one of their most definitive. By stirring together the various elements they’ve previously showcased separately, the duo creates a heady brew of electronica worthy of heavy rotation.

  • Goldfrapp: Tales Of Us

    [xrr rating=3.25/5]There are moments when listening to Goldrapp’s sixth studio effor…
  • Finding Ophelia

    An audiovisual spectacle with weak performances and contrived storytelling that leave the …
  • From the Vaults of Streaming Hell: Painkillers

    Wraps itself in the trappings of grief, addiction and trauma, and yet has very little inte…
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead

    Leans so hard into an emotional angle that simply never resonates that after the fire pass…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Finding Ophelia

An audiovisual spectacle with weak performances and contrived storytelling that leave the …