on 8 July 2003
(...) Black Cherry bears all the hallmarks of its predecessor. The haunting, ethereal beauty still lingers, despite the radical new direction that Alison Goldfrapp and her musical collaborator Will Gregory have taken. And what a direction!
A pounding, glam-rock-electro-funk-pop odyssey, it is catchy as hell, and with raunchier, sexier lyrics, is rather more tantalising than fairy tale mysteriousness of Felt Mountain. Opening track Crystalline Green is a terrific introduction, pretty much setting out the stall for the remaining nine tracks - hefty bass lines, lovely retro synths (can't beat 'em!), not to mention that gorgeous voice....
And although first single 'Train' cranks things up a notch, the title track brings us back to Felt Mountain territory, and together with the likes of 'Deep Honey' and 'Hairy Trees (excellent song titles!), should appease those who find the upbeat sound a bit heavy going. Particular favourites would have to be the sexy, catchy 'Twist'(containing the choice lyrics "Put your dirty angel face/Between my legs and knicker lace"), second single 'Strict Machine', and the brilliant opener 'Cystalline Green'. The album tails off slightly with the last two tracks, but this does not lessen the overall effect of the album.
Black Cherry is a more energetic, exciting and vibrant album than Felt Mountain, but Goldfrapp have not compomised their unique sound merely to knock out something more mainstream. (...)
on 19 February 2004
Goldfrapp emerged onto the music scene at the turn of the century with the debut album Felt Mountain. The excellent single Lovely Head got hijacked by mobile phone adverts and helped shift half a million units for Mute. Containing atmospheric John Barry inspired lo-fi songs, Felt Mountain became one of those coffee table albums filling a gap for those who mourned the passing of Portishead and The Sneaker Pimps. Personally, I could take or leave it and soon forgot about them.
Fans were expecting the follow-up to be a safe version 2.0 of Felt Mountain. You can imagine how shocked some are to find that Black Cherry is in fact an in-your-face electronic album with grinding analogue basslines, chattering synths and dominant beats. As the lead singer Alison said, ‘we went into the studio and turned on the machines’ and this welcome change in direction has thankfully provided a more varied album. Goldfrapp are no longer a band for 40-something dullards. This sleazy electro pop with suggestive lyrics (about the delights of oral sex on Twist) is aided by many weird sounds of invention. Analogue in nature with as many layers as the Human League’s 2001 Secrets album, Black Cherry is quite an achievement technically. This is the kind of album Madonna had tried to make with Music and American Life but she never quite pulled it off.
With no retro nods back to that era, all the tracks sound oddly modern. The first single released ‘Train’ was enough to win me over with its updated glam rock sound moulded into some very deep bass sounds. This track really owes more to the early 70s than anything released a decade later. The second single 'Strict Machine' (which deserves a rating of 9/10 on its own), has similar glam rock routes but with no guitars in sight. If 'Train' didn’t win you over, Strict Machine will blow you away. It is infectious and unforgettable and no pre-sets were used during the making of this record. Those not yet familiar would hace heard the pervy electro of Strict Machine many a time on TV trailers and adverts in recent months.
Although melodic throughout, this isn’t a conventional album in the classic pop sense. Crystalline Green’s title hints at how sharp this album sounds. You can hear every sound, crisp and clear as most electronic music should be. Fans of Felt Mountain shouldn’t be too despondent, there are still a few of those John Barry moments such as Deep Honey whilst Hairy Trees is very seductive like Saint Etienne at their peak.
Title track Black Cherry though is the real star of the pack. Warm analogue synths and beautiful string arrangements dominate this electro ballad with a vocal performance that simply gives you the shivers. It was seeing Goldfrapp perform this track live on BBC-2 that turned me into a committed fan and the album has rarely left the CD player. The final bonus is that Alison Goldfrapp has an enchanting voice and possibly one of the best female singers the UK has produced in quite a while.
Nu-electro for the cool kids
on 15 April 2003
how can you describe goldfrapp? after their first, frankly rather strange album, we all wondered what their return would sound like. well, i hate to say it, but it sounds better. their first album was also stunning, crazy mad stunning, whips, horses, but above it all rose creativity. and in black cherry, we have positively oodles more of the stuff. let me describe this album. dirty, filthy, beautiful, manic, calming, wide, narrow, quiet, loud, new sounds, old sounds, contraversial? not really, great lyrics (even if you cant hear allison that well), but come on, this is the most stunning album of 2003 yet.
listen to tiptoe, hear it build with the strings, and you can feel your body relaxing, then the riff hits and its just amazing. the string fadout, its so damn good.
deep honey sounds most like as if its off felt mountain, but its still lovely. forboding, strange, but always elegant. intense stuff.
hairy trees, well, this is just dream music, with brilliantly simple lyrics, and allison's voice, melting away in the background like caramel.
twist, well, this is strange, its good, but not standout. dirty again like train, with a good chorus, but frankly, it didnt do it for me.
train, try listening to it without swaying, really getting into the filthiest of basslines that goldfrapp can pump out with venom.recall debbie harry, think punk rock synth early 80's, deft lyrics that build to a brilliant crescendo.
black cherry is just gorgeous. talk about a lyric - "all my world in one grain of sand and i've blown it. all the world in one grain of sand and you own it." its a love song, but this isn't lovvy dovvy love, this is raw, this is us, with the silly, but sexy little trmupet noises, and crisp beats. genius.
forever is another stunner. just buy this album, i cant explain it.
this stuff is also extremely crisp and fresh, razor sharp noises that once they get into your brain, will not get out. the only way to calm them is to listen again. i guarantee you, three listens and you will be hooked.
dont be fooled into thinking that this album is just another one riding on the wave of current electro pop. yes, this is electronic, but this one stands so far away from the crowd that you cant even see the crowd.
everybody should own this album. goldfrapp, we salute you, you have made a beautiful, unique, timeless album, that i know i will be listening to in many years to come. we likey.
on 29 April 2003
Felt mountain has been my favourite album for around two years now, and after hearing the new live tracks on their last tour, I was expecting more of the same from Black Cherry. The title track, deep honey and hairy trees do have the same lush strings and mountain range ambiance as felt mountain, but are actually the weakest tracks. What remains is stomping, glam-rock electronica, twisted vocals and big beats! The vocals are less weimar and more kylie-gone-bad! Twist is such a cool pop song- think one of the minogue sisters duetting with aphex twin and singing about oral sex. Stand out tracks are train, strict machine and tiptoe. The impossible has happened- felt mountain avalanched x
on 18 December 2005
My first experience of Goldfrapp was hearing the mesmerising song 'Black Cherry' on a Hed Kandi Winter Chill album I bought last year. Haunted by the surrealistic quality of it and Allison's hypnotic vocals I advanced, ghost-like, to the record store and purchased this album. Scurrying straight home gripping tightly onto my prize, I hoped longingly that it would reveal many more hidden treasures like 'Black Cherry'... and I was not dissapointed. Listening to this album can only be compared to falling, Alice-like, down a rabbit hole and discovering a lush and twisted fairy tale at the bottom. This vibe is echoed by the albums sparkly fantabulous artwork, portraying Allison Goldfrapp as a pseudo-Red Riding Hood (complete with Dorothy Gayle ruby slippers) being both licked sensuously and ravaged brutally by wolves. I find this a marvelous visual encapsulation of the mood and sound of the album.
To actually describe the music is quite an enigma. The content is absoulutely diverse, all honey-dripped eroticism one minute (Black Cherry) and Rainbow-Brite 80's electronic synth pop the next (Tiptoe)- and all with a dash of fairydust thrown in. Lyrics such as:
* *Touch my garden rain clouds, mountains
sunshine all day long, sunrise, meadows
oceans, rainbows starlight all day long* *
and track names such as 'Crystalline Green', 'Deep Honey' and 'Hairy Trees' should prepare you for the lush, subversive and sometimes dark lyrical content of the songs. Use of electronic sound is manipulated beautifully along with the mesmeric quality of Allison's vocals to produce a complete stellar wave of uber-uber-uber deliciously cool music and sounds. Listen to it and envy the creativity!! I have booked tickets to see them live at Brixton Academy in Feb and I am simply trembling with anticipation of their highly theatrical live performance!!
Well I have to admit that I wasn't much impressed with their debut, 'Felt Mountain', all the praise it received was lost on me. Usually stuff that is nominated for the Mercury Prize receives a wide berth from me, and for that album it was no different story for me.
Then I saw them performing a couple of songs from this, their second album on Jools Holland's show, and I was gob smacked. What a transformation! Gone are the gently, lilting French torch songs and they are replaced by booming, teutonic, glam monsters, almost reminiscent of some of Roxy Music's earlier stuff. For me it's like a cross between Cabaret Voltaire, Giorgio Moroder and Roxy Music, no bad thing then!
Conversely though, fans of the first album may be none too pleased by this!
But for me, it's a super album, brimming with energy and tension. Present throughout are the humming, electro basslines and beats, which change from smooth, quiet passages to almost gnarling, vociferous booms of energy as they engulf some tracks in clouds of atmospheric wash and sound.
In the midst of all of this, stands Alison Goldfrapp, proving she and musical partner, Will Gregory, are no one trick ponies, and also showing they welcome change rather than churning out album after album of the same-sounding material. Sure, this may not please fans who prefer one album over the other, but at least it'll make sure for more interest and variety in the band's repertoire and as such the entertainment factor will increase.
Behind Alison's wonderful voice, is Will's constantly changing array of musical wizardry. This album is definitely aimed more at the mainstream, but it holds back from fully embracing it. Goldfrapp will always be too unpredictable and too interesting for the mainstream to fully comprehend.
on 17 October 2003
I bought this album on the strength of 'Strict Machine' and I am so glad that I did.
At first listen this is a quirky, uncomfortable and almost odd selection of tunes and sounds. But as I played it over and over again on my headphones (whilst laying on a beach in the Med) I fell in love with 'Black Cherry'and Goldfrapp.
The album kicks-off with 'Crystalline Green', and uplifting, dreamy and almost anthemic tune. I hate the catch-all term 'chill-out', but this tune will do precisely that - chill you out. However tune two, 'Train', is a slap round the face the pick you up, and make you listen; a chugging, charging and extremely addictive bit of electro-funk. The song 'Black Cherry' is a psychadelic soundscape, with Alison Goldfrapp's vocals sounding like a lullaby.
The biggest suprise for me was 'Tiptoe', a classy number, with strings and big raunchy power! To me it actually sounds like the best 'Bond' theme that was never made (Bond film makers take note please).
on 1 April 2003
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this album and I have to admit on first listen I felt a bit let down. I was a massive fan of their first album Felt Mountain, and saw them live at two excellent gigs in London. Having said that, after listening to this a few times it is definitely growing on me.
Right from the start you'll realise how different this is, from the electronic pop of 'Crystalline Green' on to the rhythmic buzz of 'Train'. 'Black Cherry' the title track has quite an emotional feel, with soft beats, electronic effects and strings. 'Tiptoe' gives us some bleeps that sound like they could have come from an old arcade machine coupled with a thumping rhythm and Allison singing about as low as she can. 'Deep Honey' is a about as close to Felt Mountain as they have ventured on this record. The bizarrely titled 'Hairy Trees' is a trippy little number where Allison sings about sunshine, rainbows and mountains. Next up is 'Twist' which sounds like the illegitimate offspring of Garbage & Kylie Minogue. There's a definite Glam Rock feel to 'Strict Machine', with Allison insisting that "I'm love with your strict machine". The album winds up with 'Forever', a ballad, and 'Slippage' an instrumental in the same vein as the title track of the previous album (ie. Allison lends her vocal talents without actually singing a word).
Allison's sultry voice is still in evidence throughout but she has lost some of that breathy quality that worked so well on tracks such as 'Pilots'. Overall their sound has moved from a warm jazzy sound, to an electronic pop. If you were looking forward to Felt Mountain 2 then think twice - but don't entirely rule it out, it is quite nice when a band chooses to take a few risks and do something a little different.
Not being the sort of person who is easily seduced by singer songwriter types I was, however, totally blown away by a TV airing of Strict Machine and immediately ordered the album. On first listen I immediately knew I was in the presence of something special.
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes Black Cherry such a great album. Is it the sleazy, grinding synth sounds? The digital heaviness which at times calls to mind the Nine Inch Nails at their best? Or perhaps the beautifully arranged string instruments which carve out immediately memorable melodies in the background? Maybe it’s all of these things? All of these things combined with the fact that A.G.’s voice is loaded with such dark and erotic intrigue that it is almost irresistable.
As you would expect for an album cobbled together principally by two dues paid musicians, the arrangements on Black Cherry are never short of technically eloquent. One half of the musical partnership being Portishead collaborator Will Gregory comes as no surprise when you hear the style with which the more traditional instruments are fused to the supra-modern sounding keyboard blips and squelches. Connections aside Goldfrapp sound nothing like Portishead. Their work on this album is somehow more immediate and less cold and haughty than the Head.
There is a hefty streak of pop alongside the rock on Black Cherry and during cuts like Train and Strict Machine (the album’s two hit singles) the tip of the hat to the likes of Blondie and Donna Summer are undeniable. But theres more... This album fits into that trans genre appeal group filled by bands like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers. You will feel this in no small measure as the surging intensity at the end of Crystalline Green gives way to the crunch and grind of Train before climaxing into the airy summertime of the album’s title track.
It’s a short, sweet album and leaves you wanting more. It’s aggressive yet friendly, sleazy yet pure. This one is a future classic, make no mistake about it.
on 29 April 2003
Anyone who bought Goldfrapp's debut - all lush strings, sixties spy flick guitars and soothing melodies - could scarcely have predicted this departure in their follow-up outing.
Right from the outset, it's clear that they've been listening to some pretty different stuff lately, and probably having a bit more fun too. Where Felt Mountain tiptoed in gently via the back garden, Black Cherry busts in through the front window. Strings become synths, and driving basslines rumble beneath drum machine loops to create a (yes, I know) electro-clash style feel to proceedings. There are nods to glam rock and I even noticed a few Depeche Mode-style whipping synth sounds a la 'Personal Jesus' on 'Train'.
But it's not all radically different: 'Hairy Trees' is one of three or four tracks that wouldn't have been out of place on their previous outing, and Alison Goldfrapp's seductive whisper guarantees at least an element of continuity.
There's no denying that this album will alienate the Felt Mountain purists, but anyone who caught Goldfrapp's live shows (particularly their Teutonic take on Olivia Newton-John's 'Physical') will not be overly surprised by this new direction.
Overall, Black Cherry is sexy, grinding stuff - rooted in the same basic vibes that made Felt Mountain so great, but with a more immediate, clubby sensibility. I'm not sure it will have quite the shelf-life of Felt Mountain, but it's fresher and probably more exciting as a result.