Goldfrapp’s fourth release seems somewhat confined to deliver upon the expectations of its cover art, a freak-folk, magic hour sunburst portrait of alluring chanteuse Alison Goldfrapp clad in pirate garb. The disc does a superb job of distancing Goldfrapp from the dark, decadent discoburn dirges of past releases, but the overall pleasantness and folky vibe somewhat dampens the bite of lines like, “I think I want you still / But it may be pills at work” from leadoff single “A&E.”
Acoustic guitars and dreamy silken keyboards are omnipresent, beautifully culminating at times, like on the drifting, melodic “Little Bird” where the chorus simply indulges in a precious refrain of “July, July, July” to wonderful effect before cascading into an arms-out joyful climax of ethereal vox and silt-like string work. Tracks like “Eat Yourself” and “Cologne Cerrone Houdini” allow bandmate Will Gregory to perfectly frame Goldfrapp’s vivid voice within streaming other-worldy melodies. Elsewhere, tracks seem to dip dangerously close to generic adult contemporary muzak like the aimless uplift of “Road To Somewhere” and the somewhat neutered single, “A&E.” Toward the album’s end, Caravan Girl” propels into a jaunty, welcome ruckus harkening backward to Van Morrison’s best moments.
Inspired to dabble in a new style by a successful acoustic session, Goldfrapp does a thorough about-face to sometimes magical effect on Seventh Tree, but the duo hit enough potholes (refer to the laughable chirping birds on album opener “Clowns”) to make fans think twice before diving into this electronic folk mirage head first.
Favorite Track: “Cologne Cerrone Houdini”