Oh, Goldfrapp. An act associated with so much quality that it’s almost surprising when they don’t deliver. And – spoiler alert – they certainly do on their new album Silver Eye.
In an odd paradox, they’ve never sounded more accomplished or icy. And it’s both heartening and clear to see exactly how much a duo dynamic can work when there’s mutual understanding. Will Gregory populates the sound between Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals with such ease and perfection that it’s hard to find a musical relationship this on-point after so many years.
It’s there in the pounding beats of Anymore – one of the best songs they’ve ever done – and the fuzzy electronica of Systemagic, a track that recalls some of their finest melodies and repackages them in new glory. The scale doesn’t seem any less than cinematic either, with songs like Tigerman continuing to mine those darker recesses of synth-pop and coming out with a bleak, dystopian worldview.
If there’s ever a complaint about Goldfrapp it’s that sometimes they sound too cold and distant, and perhaps don’t often stretch themselves. That isn’t really a complaint that holds much water here – even as Become The One starts to become dry it reveals a new layer, before it’s followed by the delicate delivery of Faux Suede Drifter and one of Goldfrapp’s most haunting performances to date.
In a year that hasn’t been overly memorable for albums so far, it’s a delight to see an old hand still deliver. It’s one of their darker affairs but no shorter on melody, or indeed that distinct breath of life they imbue in even the coldest productions. Silver Eye might seem extremely polished, but it’s arguably one of their most human efforts to date. Excuse us while we Gold-fap-fap-fap ourselves into a tizz.