The ’80s synth-pop electroclash thing is largely over-saturated, but the English duo Goldfrapp manages to develop the sound into new territories on its third full-length, Supernature. The group’s members, vocalist Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, are involved in every aspect of their act, from writing their own music to making their own clothes and CD artwork. All of this seems to work to Goldfrapp’s advantage. Supernature expands upon the electro-pop clichés and delivers a self-assured set of interplanetary twenty-first-century club music.
Many of Supernature‘s tracks sound like they came straight off a John Hughes movie, but the album works due to its sincerity and enchanting vocals. The singer’s voice is somewhere between Gwen Stefani’s and Beth Orton’s, channeling equal parts optimism and heartache. For all the album’s musical delights, she is the driving force behind the sound. Her exuberant hooks, which appear on just about every track, give the album a certain pop appeal that is often missing in electro excursions.
Opener “Oh La La” and the glam “Ride a White Horse” deftly combine catchy lyrics with textured productions. Most of the album gives off a chic glamorous disco throwback vibe a la Madonna’s Confessions of A Dancefloor, but a few tracks surge past these limitations. “You Never Know” is a throbbing acid pulse that simmers with melodrama and theatrics. It plays like a techno opera with synthesized stabs that build into a deafening roar over Alison Goldfrapp’s tortured vocals. The album’s two down-tempo tracks are actually its strongest. The eerie “Let It Take You” is a gorgeous production that relies on simple layered electronic blips and lush strings. “Time Out From the World” follows a similar vibe: all twinkling and airy effects cemented by a captivating vocal performance.
An air of pretentiousness definitely sits over Supernature, but this is a rather enjoyable work that surpasses most material of a similar nature. The singer’s grasp of pop songwriting and the dreamlike quality of the productions help the album to stand out.