I don't know why I hate Goldfrapp. Alison Goldfrapp has a perfectly reasonable voice, and Will Gregory, her musical partner in crime, seems to be a talented fellow, even if his hipster hair and hipster beard and hipster glasses make me want to smite him with irony. (Is that wrong of me? If you take the honest-to-goodness sociopaths out of the mix, is there any group of humanity more annoying than hipster musicians? And is there any better way to abuse them than to use their favorite literary device against them?)
Anyway, I digress. I don't like Goldfrapp. The very thought of listening to Goldfrapp makes me feel icky. I dislike Goldfrapp to the degree that if someone tells me he or she likes them, I immediately think a little bit less of that person, the same way I would think less of a person who told me they hate black people or they kick puppies. Because bigotry and cruelty really have so much in common with bad musical taste, you know?
So, when I looked at the New Releases shelf at the EPFL and I saw Alison Goldfrapp in her stupid pirate hat on the cover of Seventh Tree, I knew it was finally time to listen. Here goes. Wish me luck.
The only way I can honestly review this album is to break it into two sections: all of the songs except "A&E," and "A&E."
The music on Seventh Tree isn't as awful as I expected. In fact, it isn't awful at all. It is dull, though. Listening to Seventh Tree is about as exciting as finding that long lost Carpenters album, Karen and Richard Sit Around and Sing about How Much They Love Ironic Electro-Hipsters. The music is pretty and well-produced, but it's just not that interesting. The words are clever and biting, but they just aren't that good. It's easy to listen to the songs on Seventh Tree, but not a single musical moment from the album sticks with me after the disc ends.
Not a single musical moment except for "A&E," which is absolutely fantastic. The music curves and climbs in a wonderful way, and it supports lyrics about a woman waking up in the emergency room after a lovelorn suicide attempt. (A&E, or Accident & Emergency, is apparently what the Brits call their emergency rooms.) The song is a beautiful juxtaposition of joy and pain. The lyrics are simple but they're remarkably effective: for example, the narrator's "backless dress" -- whether taken on its own or interpreted as a metaphor for a hospital gown -- manages to convey a great deal of imagery with a paltry three syllables.
Owls, pirates, boobies, owls with boobies... the whole thing screams "pretentious." Or maybe "stupid." Or maybe even "crazy." Whatever it is, the photos are well done and the owl costume is pretty impressive, even if it is pretentious/stupid/crazy. It's a shame that the lyrics are printed in muted gold ink on cream paper, but they're not all that good anyway. My petty complaints of legibility aside, the package does have a kind of other-worldly sense to it, like a poster for the Renaissance Faire or something.
Listen if you like: lite dance/pop like Air, and maybe twee nonsense like Belle & Sebastian. Bjork or Kate Bush fans might give it a chance, but it's remarkably tame when compared to either of those two. All those
If it were food, it'd be: sugar free cake with extra saccharine and one deliciously out-of-place piece of fresh fruit right in the middle.