Tales of Us Box set, PAL
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Looking at the spread of reviews so far (not just on Amazon) it seems that this record has divided opinion and for a band that has expressed such eclecticism in their career this is not too much of a surprise. As a return to their original Felt Mountain sound fans of the more upbeat euro-pop-synths (Head First) are ultimately left disappointed. This, in my opinion, is a great shame.
I have to admit my allegiance for now - I have always preferred the earlier works - this is the sound I seem to identify with much more. Rich textures of (sometimes cliché) arpeggiated guitar, sweeping synth and downtempo beats. A backing track that is reminiscent of the mystic escapism of Massive Attack draped in haunting poetic vocals.
Throughout this record there remains a folk undertone that mostly takes control of the lyrics and Alison Goldfrapp commands a brooding sincerity that acts as the backbone for the ambience. But the word ambience is perhaps too emotionally soft. Aside from a couple of less memorable tracks, the majority of the record is poised precariously in the more haunting side of chill. Icy, misty, foggy are words that come to mind. Evocatively cascading melodies print images of fairytale lands - the production in the English countryside bearing a clear influence on the production.Read more ›
Anyone expecting the poptastic sparkle of 'Head First' or the crunching Eurobeats of 'Supernature' will be bored to death. These are slow, reflective, late-night songs, whose sonic landscape is dominated by acoustic guitar, piano and lush, symphonic strings. Will Gregory's electronica is buried deep in the mix, contributing mainly at the level of texture and atmosphere. The producion is warm and velvety, but still with an edge of dark, slightly pervy menace. Alison Goldfrapp's smouldering vocals are a breathy delight, dripping with deep honey, and still capable of running an icy finger down your spine when she hits the higher registers.
So, the album sounds great, but what's probably most impressive about 'Tales of Us' is the lyrical sophistication of the songwriting, which is a quantum leap ahead of anything in Goldfrapp's earlier canon. The songs operate as oblique, crepuscular character sketches of broken, damaged demi-mondaine men and women. Across the span of the album they cohere together into the aural equivalent of some kind of a Euro film-noir - an impression further reinforced by the cinematic sweep of the music. It's an album that unfolds slowly, and which demands patience and close attention, but which won't let go once it has you in its sinister grip.
Rather than a collection of individual tracks the album works by slow osmosis until you are thoroughly intoxicated by the whole rather the sum of the individual parts (very rare in this iTunes age) and that is part of its overall strength. I hope after the misstep of Head First and perhaps Alison's realisation that going back to the disco is probably not what she or a large portion of her original fanbase (who'll also be in their mid-late 30's/ early 40's) would want that she'll continue in this atmospheric and introspective vein whilst continuing to evolve in the patented Goldfrapp fashion.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every few years a stunning album comes along. Perfect album. Still listening to it.Published 3 months ago by D. M. Monk
This is a wonderful album, finally: something on par with Felt Mountain. The middle albums weren't for me. (Seventh Tree was a brief respite. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Maxalbert