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Goldfrapp “Tales Of Us” – Album Review

Mute (2013)

Seemingly burned by the underwhelming response to 2010’s Head First, a full-throttle foray into 80s Hi-NRG synth-pop which frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp has since admitted she isn’t particularly proud of, the electronica scene’s most chameleon-like duo now return to the dreamy cinematic sound of their debut for sixth studio album, Tales Of Us.

Indeed, recorded in the English countryside, its ten short stories – all but one of which are named in the first person – undeniably share a similar fondness for John Barry’s epic James Bond scores and David Lynch-esque atmospherics as 2000’s Mercury Prize-nominated Felt Mountain.

Drenched in the kind of sweeping strings that would have soundtracked Sean Connery’s stint as 007, lead single “Drew” is a gorgeously lush affair which allows Alison to showcase her seductive tones in all their glory. Elsewhere, the soft skittering rhythms and gentle acoustics of “Simone” echoes the haunting dream-pop of Julee Cruise’s theme to Twin Peaks.

Unlike Goldfrapp’s earlier big-screen epic, which also ventured into trip-hop, cabaret and baroque pop, Tales Of Us only ever really deviates from its widescreen template twice: firstly with the slow-motion disco of “Thea,” and then with the pastoral folk-pop of closer “Clay,” an approach which initially makes the record appear a little too one-note.

But as with the shoegazey guitars on the ominous opener “Jo” and the eerie whistle-led melody on “Stranger,” the album slowly unfolds its hidden charms with each listen. “Laurel,” the tale of a Hollywood actress married to a serial killer, and “Annabel,” a noirish lullaby inspired by the story of a hermaphrodite torn between two genders, further ramp up the intrigue.

Those who prefer the dancefloor-striding half of Goldfrapp’s split personality will no doubt be disappointed at the lack of beats and synths, likewise those who were anticipating a new bold direction. But while Tales Of Us is perhaps the first time that the enigmatic duo have looked backwards, it’s also arguably their most mesmerising offering yet.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music


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