Goldfrapp return with SEVENTH TREE (co-produced by Flood), an album that confounds all that went before; warm and sensual and shimmering, it is the sound of a very British delirium, echoing the nonsense of poetry of Edward Lear and the eccentricities of early Pink Floyd. Recorded in a 1960s bungalow in Bath, it was a conscious move to step away from the Weimar-esque strutting of earlier work and explore a more psychedelic terrain.
Seventh Tree unveils an Alison Goldfrapp quite different to the one we saw on her career highpoint to date, 2005's Supernature. Whereas that album was grandiose, glammy, and almost aggressive in its brash, thrusting sexuality, Goldfrapp's fourth album is no less sensual, but rather more subtle in its approach. Recorded with longtime collaborator Will Gregory out in rural Somerset, Seventh Tree feels like an attempt to fuse the pagan folk of cult English horror classic The Wicker Man< to a lush backdrop of woozy electronics and a restrained orchestral sweep reminiscent of '70s-era Serge Gainsbourg. In practise, this means much of Seventh Tree goes where earlier Gainsbourg disciples such as Air have gone before: chilled-out, soporific electronica with a light organic edge. Luckily, Goldfrapp remains a compelling enough figure to keep matters on the right side of ethereal: the gorgeous "Clowns" imagines the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser guesting on some long-forgotten Nick Drake out-take, rustic folk with an all-but-indecipherable vocal and an undercurrent of desolation, while "A&E" shows Goldfrapp's pop urge has not deserted her, uplifting electronica with a warm, bucolic twist. --Louis Pattison