CD Review of Supernature by Goldfrapp

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Released: 2006
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I’d love to start off this review by saying that putting the MediaMax system on promo CDs is pointless. It doesn’t stop anyone from successfully ripping the discs to their computer, nor does the MediaMax software have to be installed to play it on your computer. A couple of clicks is all that’s necessary to turn the annoying piece of crap software off for good and get to sticking it on the hard drive or iPod. So a word of advice to the labels: just stop using this thing. It’s completely worthless and a waste of your time if you think it actually stops anyone.

Anyway, this is the thing I had to deal with when playing my copy of Goldfrapp’s latest disc, Supernature. Let’s face it: we CD reviewers often pop any review discs sent to us straight into out computer CD-ROMs before we stick them in our stereos. It’s just easier that way to listen and write and so on. When you’ve got a chunk of software that you don’t want on your computer telling you that you have to put it on there or else not be able to hear the damn thing, well, fuck that. If you want us to review the discs, then we should have complete access.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on to the actual music here. At first listen, Supernature sounded really damn good. Like something you’d want to take a few cuts from and plop onto a mix disc or have in your car to groove to. Maybe it’s the way the opening track “Ooh La La” steals its bass line from the classic “Spirit in the Sky.” Maybe it’s the way the electronic tones sound really nice, as this is a very well produced album. Maybe that song is just really damn good.

Yeah, it’s undoubtedly the last one. Nothing else on the disc seems to hit that high, and instead goes for dance floor generics that don’t even sound good in the car after a few tracks. These guys are best at keeping in short and sweet. When they stretch out over four minutes as on a song like “Ride a White Horse,” the Goldfrapp recipe quickly becomes obvious and stale. Sexy female vocals, big beats, and lush synthetic melodies do their best to push your feet along, but the groove just isn’t deep enough here.

And sometimes that’s enough. Certain artists can make completely hollow electronica albums that are really enjoyable and warrant a ton of listens. Goldfrapp is too much about the pretense, though. You gotta think this shit is way sexy and seductive and feel that “Lovely 2 C U” would warrant shagging someone after an all-night bender to. But unfortunately the sexiness is about as clichéd as those current Jessica Simpson Pizza Hut commercials.

“Let It Take You” is the nadir of this sexiness. It crawls by and drips with a prefab expectant longing, but it’s more like Chinese water torture than sensual. Still, “Fly Me Away” is tasty enough with a synth bass line that recalls the Pulsars at their best. Too bad, then, that “Slide In” sounds like a leftover Prince track from the early ‘80s. And no one would ever accuse “Number 1” of being just that. It seems that Goldfrapp have no real original ideas here and are happy just to show off their influences, however watered down they may be.

Funny, then, that the whiz-bang press quotes included in the disc scream such things as “The Best Pop Album of 2005” from NME, and “Supernature sounds brilliantly here and now,” quoth Q. If anything, the album sounds boringly more than ten years ago, though it does have a couple moments. It’s good enough for the dance floor, sure, but don’t you want more than just something that sounds good while you’re drunk and hitting on another drunkard? Sure you do.

~Jason Thompson