Goldfrapp: Black Cherry (Mute)

So what is the message? Sex.

Acoustic and unplugged are out of style if you ask the duo of Goldfrapp, Wil Gregory (synthesizers) and Alison Goldfrapp (vocals, synthesizers, and namesake). Their sophomore effort, Black Cherry, detours from the dreamy and ethereal in favor of industrial electro melodies and suggestive raunch of their new offering.

Goldfrapp kept their followers enthralled with the atmospheric sounds and surreally thought-provoking lyrics only for the listener to wonder if Goldfrapp were the only ones who truly understand how their thoughts were meant to be conveyed. Black Cherry paints a clearer picture of the message of suggestion. It might not be as clear as a precisely focused telescopic lens, but it describes the panoramic scene versus a fragment in earlier works.

So what is the message? Sex. Or perhaps the mere hint of it makes it a more sensual experience for the ears than blatant innuendo. The first single, “Train,” is the electro-glam tour de force which moves like a caterpillar stuck in an electrical socket. “Plastic brain scar, I want laser, I’m your chauffeur, with high gloss highs, take you where you want.” The harsh synthetic instrumentation combined with Goldfrapp’s sultry-with-a-hint-of-classy tarnish makes “Train” an underrated gem that many high-scale topless bars will overlook when their DJ shops for sleazy hip-hop and Top 40 ironic candy pop at the local retailer.

Goldfrapp can offer solemn moments amid the twinge of quivering tin can beats that tickle your ears and arouse the imagination and wonder of the gazing but dim reach into realistic consciousness. Case in point, “Deep Honey”: “You don’t like the dark fringed by the silver sea, always brave and pert, Sunday sun your up.” And “Forever”: “Write it down but don’t send the letter, when it shines it’s forever, here I wanna be a stranger.” The peak of self-inquisition and longing is not often seen best in third person from the listener’s perspective. This record makes sense of the ominous and diffused as if the lyrics are coming from the chaise lounge, fishing for affirmation and answers.

The beauty of Black Cherry also comes from its frankness in “Twist”: “Before U go and leave this town,/want to see you one more time,/put your dirty angel face between my legs and knicker lace.” Ask fans of the duo and they will show their appreciation for Goldfrapp’s eccentric and ironic lyric pairings with the notion of what exactly they’re doing with the instruments used. “I’m in love with a strict machine,/when you send me a pulse, feel a wave of new love through me,” says “Strict Machine,” the perfect song missing from the ’80s comic-slasher Maximum Overdrive.

Half of Black Cherry is an electronically aural carnival for people who still support Atari. The other half is for people who playfully consider installing a chrome pole in the middle of their den for dancing.

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