But that was in 2000, and we’ve been waiting ever since for another dose of the decadent and supremely elegant sound conjured up by the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. Rare live performances have just increased the anticipation, and perhaps with hindsight should have given a clue as to the direction Goldfrapp were taking with the work in progress. She may have the voice of one, but Alison Goldfrapp is at pains to show us she’s no angel, and all the lyrics sound as if they were written under the influence of a cocktail of illicit substances.
Black Cherry kicks off with Crystalline Green: a heavy synth beat overlaid with vocals reminiscent of Debby Harry at her best creates a hypnotic idyll. The techno influence is even heavier in Train, the first single from the album, which seems designed to please clubbers. The title track however is a laid back love song with lush orchestration – much more what one would expect.
Deep Honey and Hairy Trees are both mellow and sensuous. Twist and Strict Machine are altogether funkier, very much urban tracks in contrast to the wide open spaces we’ve just left. Sleazy lyrics – “Put your dirty angel face between my legs and knicker lace” complete the transformation. This contrast really sums up the album – either slow and lush or driving and techno. The one track to combine the two is Tiptoe: harsh electronica with serene vocal and string interludes interspersed between the bleeps and bloops. This track is a real grower – possibly the best on the album, certainly one of the most interesting.
By the time I’ve heard the album a couple of times I’ve got over the initial shock and have decided that actually, this is a damn good follow-up. I miss the other-worldly atmosphere of Felt Mountain, but it was probably too much to expect even Goldfrapp to create another masterpiece so soon. And I suspect some of the tracks on Black Cherry will be astonishing live.