Most anticipated albums of 2013
2. Goldfrapp – As yet untitled new album
Release date: Unknown
2013 should see the arrival of a new album from Goldfrapp, one of my favourite bands with one of the most diverse back catalogues from the past decade. In fact, the only reason this album is at number two in my list of most anticipated albums of 2013 is because I don’t know which way it is going. Whereas 2003’s Black Cherry, most successful album, 2005’s Supernature and last album, 2010’s Head First were all more dance and glam rock orientated albums, debut album, 2000’s Felt Mountain sounded like a slightly creepy/folky James Bond soundtrack and fourth album, 2008’s Seventh Tree was a pastoral, mellow, almost acoustic folk affair that sounded like it had been recorded in the woods. With Goldfrapp producing two very distinct sounds, it is uncertain which way the new album is heading.
When Seventh Tree was released, after the success of Supernature, Goldfrapp could have easily regurgitated the album for its follow-up but instead came out with a sex-free album with Alison dressed as a clown and caressing a giant owl. First single A&E was a top ten hit but the album was not as popular as its predecessor, despite being beautiful and very listenable indeed.
When their last album, Head First, was released, it was a return to a more upbeat pop sound but many of the songs felt a little bit hollow and the album was short, with a running time of under 40 minutes, with only 9 tracks (of which one was an instrumental). When the video for Alive came out, it was described by some as the kind of video a band makes when they realise nobody is going to see it, so they can do whatever they want. It is an album that I rarely go back to, apart from a few songs, and the public didn’t take to it. Fortunately, the whole album campaign did bring about the best non-music thing to happen concerning Goldfrapp: when they appeared on TV and were forced to mime but Alison missed her cue and pissed off the Italian hostess, who angrily asked ‘WHAT ‘APPEN? YOU AVE THE PROBLEM WITH THE BALLOONZA?’ [see below]. Beautiful. Soon afterwards, Goldfrapp parted ways with their record label, but not before a forced end-of-deal singles compilation was churned out.
What can we expect the album to sound like?
Nothing official has emerged yet, no videos of Alison rapping about cake, so a little digging and social media exploration has to be done, but according to Alison’s Twitter account, in messages posted in January, the album is still not finished and she is writing her socks off. She has, however, posted pictures that she took in the woods and also talked about a new music video. If the music video is indeed set in a forest, then it may end up looking like the video for A&E and so could hint at a more folky album, which I would very much enjoy. Whatever happens, a return to the overly-poppy, shallow sound of Head First seems unlikely, as Alison herself has said that she didn’t actually like the album, which, while being refreshingly honest, does seem to be shooting oneself in the foot somewhat. That album was, as she says in this interview, a bit rushed due to the record label’s demands, so hopefully this lack of pressure, coupled with unfortunate personal losses in Alison’s family life should lead to a more mellow, natural and less forced album. A mix of Felt Mountain and Seventh Tree would suit me. Songs like A&E, Black Cherry, Eat Yourself, Happiness, Little Bird, Monster Love, Number One, Pilots, & Utopia would make for the perfect sound for Goldfrapp in 2013.
What about the artwork?
Goldfrapp’s image has always pretty important for the band, or at least for Alison, while Will hides at the back. It would be a good move if the pink jumpsuits worn during the Head First campaign were never to return and if these were replaced by the imagery we saw from Seventh Tree: floaty cloaks and large paper animals. Let’s just appreciate that owl photo once more.
What’s the worst that Goldfrapp could do now?
I think I’ve made this pretty clear. Trying to chase success by making the music they think people want to hear will end up in a poor album, so as long as they don’t rush things, they should be ok. A featured rapper would be worse though. Or a music video like Starships, with Alison sticking her bum up in the air and grinding in a bikini with a silly green wig on.
How good does this album need to be?
Even a 6/10 by the band’s standards will be good enough but as it’s Goldfrapp you can almost guarantee the album will be worth the wait. The love I feel for Goldfrapp is quite hard to express properly in words and I’ve felt this way for eight years, ever since I accidentally received Supernature as a birthday present (I think I was swayed by the big fold-out poster of Alison wearing a peacock’s tail). With the recent chart success of acts like Lana Del Rey, demonstrating a laid-back but chart-conquering sound, in a perfect world the new, gentle Goldfrapp album would receive the recognition that the band so obviously deserves. But then again, apparently guitars are making a comeback, so Goldfrapp might get Brian ‘Name your price’ May to axe all over the album, if he’s done with Dappy and pretending to be an astronomer. Finally, now Adele has got hers out of the way and Amy has passed on, the theme for the next Bond film should be Goldfrapp’s for the taking, someone just needs to post a copy of Felt Mountain through Barbara Broccoli’s letterbox.
One last video to appreciate, which is surely a good case for the argument of reinstating Simon Amstell on music television: