Silver Eye (Mute)
It would be great to love this Goldrapp album more, to say it has calmed and centred me like some earlier ones, or moved me to danceable joy as have others. It might even be easier to dislike it, to be able to say it’s a dud that has neither zen nor zest.
Alas I can’t go to either extreme. Which is appropriate in a way as neither can Alison Goldrapp and Will Gregory.
The pattern with Goldfrapp albums to date has been in essence if last time they offered something pastoral and gorgeous, adrift on folk tones and muted instrumentation, then the following release would be sharp and electronic, aimed at either the dancefloor or the pop heights, with pinpricks of lyrics.
Both sides of Gregory and Goldfrapp are winners and if you’re looking for starters I’d say get Seventh Tree (elegantly pastoral) and Head First (disco pop supreme) and then plunge into the dark art of Tales Of Us.
Silver Eye sits somewhere adrift of both peak points of this British duo. It is electronic and pushes some beats but rarely breaks into full dance. It has some floating tunes, Goldfrapp’s voice more ephemeral than usual, but has too much pulse to be setting a rural ambience.
Could it not therefore be a synthesis of their dualities? That’s one argument, sure. There’s some elemental darkness in a track such as Ocean which suddenly bursts into a throbbing incarnation in its last minute. Tigerman is a mood piece that threatens to switch from Germanic ambience into some Belgian house thing but holds itself in.
But on the flipside there’s Faux Suede Drifter which does in fact drift, never really pushed into making a decision, so that it feels like a noodle or a sketch more than a fully formed song.
Likewise, while Systemagic puts on its high heels for a technologically-enhanced but still airy strut (suggesting nothing less than a kind of Solange and Beyonce pairing) and Everything Is Never Enough rides a little nagging keyboard motif for a top-down-fifth-gear-engaged highway drive, Anymore pushes it claims to being chilled Euro disco but feels more like a Human League b-side circa Dare.
While never really failing, Silver Eye doesn’t have enough of the great melodies or the thumping beats or the irresistible hooks or the sensuous sound beds to mark itself as absolutely necessary Goldfrapp.
This plays well enough for now but within a month or two, perfectly fine is not really going to cut it and this will languish on the shelf as on the days I have a yearning for some Goldfrapp I pull out instead Felt Mountain or Black Cherry, or Seventh Tree or ….