Essential New Music: Goldfrapp’s “Seventh Tree”

On 2005’s Supernature, Goldfrapp proved itself the life of the party, delivering a heady stew of glammy stomps and groovy dance-floor fare to accompany discerning listeners’ post-collegiate bacchanalia. All the more striking, then, to hear Seventh Tree opener “Clowns” sounding more Sandy Denny than Marc Bolan. The hushed, pastoral track evokes images of the lush English countryside where the London duo—vocalist Alison Goldfrapp and multi-instrumentalist Will Gregory—wrote and recorded Seventh Tree.

While “Clowns” is the only purely acoustic song on the album, the rest of it is decidedly muted. “Happiness” finds the duo flirting with a mellow, Wilson-ian lilt, while “Cologne Cerrone Houdini” sounds like the Hi Records rhythm section resurrected. But Goldfrapp is most at home here with the whispery psych of “Little Bird” and “Monster Love.” With the exception of the ridiculously catchy “Caravan Girl,” Seventh Tree is a moody, understated gem. A finer hangover record will be hard to come by in 2008. []

—Bret Tobias