Fans of the glam-disco Supernature would be hard-pressed to recognize Goldfrapp in the subdued, wispy folk on Seventh Tree. But those who’ve followed the band since the beginning have been wondering for years what this protean duo would morph into next. Apparently, they couldn’t decide.
Seventh Tree plays like cover album from ten different female singer-songwriters of the past 40 years. From the creepy-sweet Kate Bush-yness of “Clowns”, to the Marianne Faithful growl of “Eat Yourself”, to the unforgivable Madonnaism of the first single “A&E”, there seems to be a different template behind each folkism. Even the most Goldfrapp moment on the album, the sexy-strut “Cologne Cerrone Houdini”, is a blatant throwback to the Brigitte Bardot / Serge Gainsbourg era.
What Goldfrapp has achieved here is an authentic 60s feel over a number of well-crafted songs, “Clowns” and “Cologne” probably being the strongest. What hasn’t been achieved is anything close to rivaling the primal gestalt of Black Cherry, or the ethereal, inhuman beauty of Felt Mountain. Alison’s gorgeous voice never wavers though, and the ultimate failure of Seventh Tree is more a matter of ambition than execution. Even on the wildest swings of the past few albums it felt as if we were witnessing fragments of a desultory personality; here, I wonder just where the real Goldfrapp is, and when she’ll come back.