Posted by: Nick Walters | October 10, 2013

Goldfrapp: Tales of Us

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

I approached this with cynicism, as Goldfrapp alternate between the dancefloor and the garret with each release, and after the rather ho-hum Head First, a return to stroky-beard minimalism seemed inevitable. And so it is. But my cynicism has been comprehensibly kicked in the bollocks, hard, by this fantastic album. It is a masterpiece, and easily their best since Felt Mountain (a record so unique that nothing can touch it). Another reason for my initial distrust was the song titles (see above photo). Add to this Alison’s Liz Fraser-like vocal leanings, and it seems Goldfrapp are trying too hard to be the Cocteau Twins, and standing on the shoulders of the best Cocteaus album, Treasure. Again, that’s been kicked in the bollocks. This is almost as good as Treasure. Yes – it’s that good! On initial hearings, however, it barely registers. All but one of the ten tracks are intimate arrangements of plucked acoustic guitar and strings – imagine a whole album of Clowns off of Seventh tree – and at first listen many of them sound alike. So clever and delicate are the tunes that they take several spins before they lodge in the mind. And lodge they do, take root and grow and unfold like a cancerous black rose in your brain. Alison’s voice is very mumbly, so you’ll need the lyric sheet to decipher these ‘tales of us’ which are all about murder, lust, revenge, sex, and gender reassignment; standard fare for Goldfrapp. Another album this recalls is Beth Gibbons’ Out of Season, which has a similar autumnal ambience, but I think this is even better than that. It’s certainly perfect for these darkening October days and will be in its element when the clocks go back. I would normally expect the disco trousers to be back for their next album, but my cynicism is rolling on the floor in agony, so go figure.



  1. I absolutely agree about Tales of Us being a masterpiece and the Cocteau Twins influence (the latter in a good way!). That’s actually the first thing I said when I listened to the album. I actually wrote a comment on the PopMatters review likening Alison Goldfrapp’s vocal stylings to Liz Fraser’s. I can’t stop listening even after all these months.

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