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Black Cherry
     

Black Cherry

5.0 1
by Goldfrapp
 

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Goldfrapp seemed an atypical participant in the late-'90s invasion of female-fronted trip-hop groups -- the duo were less a product of saccharine mid-tempo beats than knowing, technologically savvy music historians making tunes for the chill-out room's smart set. "Portishead's spunkier younger sister" seems to have gotten it about right. Black Cherry, vocalist

Overview

Goldfrapp seemed an atypical participant in the late-'90s invasion of female-fronted trip-hop groups -- the duo were less a product of saccharine mid-tempo beats than knowing, technologically savvy music historians making tunes for the chill-out room's smart set. "Portishead's spunkier younger sister" seems to have gotten it about right. Black Cherry, vocalist Allison Goldfrapp and synthesizer man Will Gregory's second proper full-length, doesn't just stick with this strategy. It builds on it, informing the group's sound with current club styles -- that is, the rebirth of all things '80s, plying a dark, synthetic layer to songs. So, like a thief in the night, electro robotics take over part of Goldfrapp's soul. From the first gray note and Linn-drum combo of opener "Crystalline Green" through the acidic homemade throbs of the marching "Train" -- with assistance from Portishead's Adrian Utley and Mark "Sparklehorse" Linkous -- into the overtly early-'80s pulse of "Strict Machine," Goldfrapp embrace the electro sound favored by fellow post-millennial travelers such as Peaches, Fischerspooner, and Felix Da Housecat. The results are bound to make the leg-warmer set jump for joy on the disco-lights dance-floor, but those who connected with the glacial melodicism of Goldfrapp's debut shouldn't fear. Between various "Der Kommisar" moves, the title track and "Deep Honey" strike beautiful and elegiac tones, as though Goldfrapp's intent is to provide glam-frosted grist for both the hips and the brain.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
In an admirably daring move, Goldfrapp's second album, Black Cherry, takes the duo in a very different direction than its instant-classic debut, Felt Mountain. Instead of just serving up more lush electronic torch songs -- which certainly would've been welcome -- Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory continue in the direction that their cover of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" suggested, adding digital-sounding synths, electroclash-inspired drum machines, and more overtly sexual lyrics to their music. While their artistic risk-taking is commendable, unfortunately the same can't always be said for the results: Black Cherry sounds unbalanced, swinging between delicate, deceptively icy ballads and heavier, dance-inspired numbers without finding much of a happy medium between them. It's true that Felt Mountain's cinematic sweep owes a debt to the likes of Portishead, Björk, John Barry, and Shirley Bassey, but its mix of old-school glamour and more modern arrangements -- not to mention Allison Goldfrapp's charms as a futuristic siren, at once sensual and aloof -- were so compelling that the album felt fresh despite its roots. Black Cherry, however, is so dominated by its influences that all too often there doesn't seem to be enough room left in the music for Goldfrapp to really make the music its own. To be fair, most of the album isn't bad -- it's just not as consistently amazing as Felt Mountain. Songs like "Crystalline Green," "Tiptoe," and "Train" are among the better synth pop-inspired tracks, keeping enough of Goldfrapp's previous sound to give a good balance of familiarity and invention, but they don't really show off the expressive range of Goldfrapp's voice that well. Not surprisingly, Black Cherry's highlights apply Felt Mountain's eloquent restraint to a slightly different sonic palette: The title track has a spacy allure thanks to the flute-like synths and lighter-than-air drums and strings, while "Deep Honey" mixes harpsichords, strings, and foreboding analog synths to ominously beautiful effect. "Hairy Trees" conjures a digitally pristine utopia (though it does include the rather embarrassing lyric "touch my garden") and "Forever" is one of the few tracks that really allows the pure tonal beauty of Goldfrapp's singing to shine through. Problems crop up on Black Cherry when the group works too hard to change its trademark sound: Despite its very danceable groove, "Twist" overplays its hand by adding too many buzzing synths and operatically orgasmic vocals (though, admittedly, they do show off Goldfrapp's impressive pipes better than some of the other songs). "Strict Machine" and "Slippage" share a similar fate, piling on dominatrix-y drum machines to give the songs a dance edge but eventually sound weighed down by them in the process. It's possible that Black Cherry disappoints because it tries to go in two different directions at once; it might have been a more coherent listening experience if it were either more ballad-based or featured more synth pop homages. As it stands, it's merely a not entirely successful experiment that suffers from its ambitions and in comparison to its brilliant predecessor. While some Felt Mountain fans may not have the patience for this album's radical departures, Black Cherry is still worthwhile for those willing to take some risks along with the group.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/06/2003
Label:
Mute
UPC:
0724596920626
catalogNumber:
9206
Rank:
73022

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Goldfrapp   Primary Artist
Andy Davis   Guitar
Mark Linkous   Casio
Adrian Utley   Bass,Guitar
Nick Batt   Synthesizer
Alison Goldfrapp   Synthesizer,Vocals,Group Member
Will Gregory   Synthesizer,Group Member
Damon Reece   Drums
Rowan Oliver   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

Nick Ingman   Orchestration,String Conductor
Nick Batt   Programming,Engineer
Alison Goldfrapp   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Art Direction
Will Gregory   Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Rowan Oliver   drum programming
Goldfrapp   Producer,Engineer
Big Active   Art Direction,Illustrations

Customer Reviews

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Black Cherry 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I downloaded the entire CD by accident on a music website and it blew my mind. Forget the negative criticism from the long-winded critics. This Album Rocks! As an artist and tap dancer, the album has inspired the living daylights out of me. The ethereal sound of her enchanting voice uplifts my spirit and ignites the heart of my creative soul. It is one of the best Albums I have heard in years. Brilliant!