Five studio albums, a little over a decade being enthroned as a cult band, and a contract with EMI that may or may not be renewed. In this context appears “The Singles,” an album presumably imposed by the record company, in which Goldfrapp renders account of a career marked by eclecticism and the incomprehension of the masses (remember that “ Ride a White Horse” is the only song that has won the approval of the British charts). Since the duo surprised us in 2000 with the spotless “Felt Mountain,” a work that took the hangover of trip-hop into cinematographic terrain, almost taciturn cabaret, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have been distancing themselves from the rest. Because whether they are giving a touch of elegance to the tossing and turning of electroclash, like in “Black Cherry” (Mute, 2003), or reinterpreting the clichés of glam-rock in “Supernature” (Mute, 2005), mutating (again) towards psychedelic-pastoral pop for the misunderstood in “Seventh Tree” (Mute, 2008), or heading back to the dance floor, in full-on 80’s revival—say “Head First” (Mute, 2010), Goldfrapp has always sounded like Goldfrapp. Even though the results have been a bit uneven, can the risk and personality of their sound be extrapolated to any other recent band?
In this container of hits, those who expected to find B-sides like “Yes Sir” (by Baccara, hidden in the folds of the 12” of “Twist”), “ Beautiful,” or the “L et’s Get Physical” from Olivia Newton-John that served as a declaration of intentions regarding their imminent hedonistic metamorphosis on the “ Felt Mountain” tour, will have no choice but to keep fighting against the moral falseness of the SOPA. Because in this stingy collection, we have to settle for recalling the duo’s most hackneyed hymns (not in chronological order). Even so, despite the notable absence of “ Human” or “ Caravan Girl” (or the versions of the eternal “ Strict Machine,” “ Happiness,” or “ Ride a White Horse” with the surgeon’s scalpel taken to them), there are two incentives that justify its purchase by people who already have all of their works: the previously unreleased “ Melancholy Sky” and “ Yellow Halo,” which give us back the organic, downtempo Goldfrapp of “ Seventh Tree.” This is a new sample of their contained sound and good work when they get tender with us. With this situation, and keeping in mind that “ Head First” turned out badly (even Alison herself has spoken ill of her latest creature in some recent interviews), the million-dollar question is what their next studio album will sound like. After an overdose of shoulder pads and superficiality, all signs point to them getting serious again.