It's good to see that Alison Goldfrapp has partly gone back to her "Felt Mountain" days for her fourth album "Seventh Tree". I have been slightly underwhelmed with the singles because after hearing the rest of the album, you get the feeling that there is so much more depth to her music than you'd first think.
"Happiness" is probably the better of the two singles already released, perhaps because the point of the song is slightly ambiguous (one minute she's asking you to hand over all your money and the next she's asking how on earth you can be so happy. Maybe this is to do with the fact that money can't buy you happiness?). "A&E", of course, is a nice little ditty that juxtaposes being in love to being trapped in a hospital ward (a little strange, but pretty great really).
But "Seventh Tree" is at its best when it returns to the grittier arrangements best shown in songs like "Paper Bag" and the haunting "Deer Stop" that featured on "Felt Mountain". This time around, she has combined this grittiness with a some of the glam-electro elements that featured on "Black Cherry" and "Supernature".
This is apparent on "Road to Somewhere" where small, quieter elements such as the acoustic guitar are layered with soaring synths. "Caravan Girl" is the most upbeat moment of the album, and the loudest song as well. It's more like something you would've found on "Black Cherry", which is great since this was the more impressive of the two electro albums, although it still keeps the alternative-folk feel from the rest of the LP. Basically, it isn't incongruous.
The best song on the album, however, is "Cologne Cerrone Houdini" (which should be future single material). It blends soul elements with the usual feel that she incorporates into her music to create an entirely different direction for her. She should make more soul-infused music. Alison has both the voice and imagination for it. "Cologne..." is like a mash-up between the songs "Felt Mountain", "Crystalline Green" and "Tiptoe". Amazing, basically. Haven't stopped listening to it when I've had the chance.
No doubt though that Goldfrapp will take yet another completely different direction for their fifth album, since there is a distinct pattern emerging between each LP.