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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 12 October 2013
A sublime album, beautifully and delicately arranged. Subtle and compelling songs that weave a spell with Alison's voice at its most captivating. Comparisons with other works would just detract from the balanced beauty of this album, it stands alone, above categorisation.
And it grows in power the more you listen to it, a singular mark of a great album. Well rounded with not a weak track to detract from the whole thing. So many I've heard recently rate only one or two listens, but this one is on permanent play at the moment and it sets a standard that puts a lot of other current releases to shame.
I haven't heard anything this good for a long, long time, giving me faith that modern artists can produce something to equal all those "classic" albums that have gone before. It also has a wonderfully atmospheric, Autumnal quality, maybe a coincidence, but it fits so well with what I see outside my window.
But really, it's Alison's voice, wonderfully expressive and understated, that will ultimately haunt you..
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on 12 September 2013
'Tales of Us' is the sixth studio album from the seminal Goldfrapp.

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.

This is not a new concept album but Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have returned to what they do best - whilst the record lacks a diversity in sound or pace it is entirely effective.

I finished this record with shivers. And a desire to tell a lot of people about it. To let people know that Goldfrapp are back.

Listen to: 'Alvar', 'Clay'
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 September 2013
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory's sixth album is a huge stylistic leap away from their previous release, 'Head First'. Much less immediate than anything they've brought out since 'Felt Mountain', the subtle, seductive, understated 'Tales of Us' is nevertheless also possibly their most rounded and satisfying album to date.

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.
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on 9 September 2013
Goldfrapp albums can be hit and miss if you consider IMHO the fairly ordinary "Head first" follow-up after the rather good "Seventh tree". Thankfully "Tales of us" charts a course clear of the overly disco "Head first" and revisits "Felt mountain" but in a more thoughtful, melodic and languid way. All of the rudimentary Goldfrapp elements are in place from that great debut - the breathy, otherworldly, whispered vocals, lush orchestrations and lingering 'to die for' melodies. Reviews so far are mixed however I feel this is the best Goldfrapp release since "Felt mountain". It is most definitely a grower with the emphasis clearly on mood and scene setting as opposed to dance and beat, The addition of strings and acoustic guitar bring real warmth and ambience to the electronic washes of sound from Will Gregory creating a slow burning serenade for spending time with someone special in the wee small hours. Lovers of previous techo offerings from Goldfrapp may not like the change hence the "disappointed" reviews. To these ears the retro step is actually a march forward. Tracks like 'Alvar', and 'Stranger' are standouts but the ultimate jewel here is the breathtaking smoulder which is "Laurel". This is sophisticated, adult music making which just oozes class and sex appeal. More please!
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on 11 September 2013
This album is a departutere from Goldfrapp's recent poptasic style and takes us back much closer to their roots It is reminiscent of Felt Mountain in its orchestral and melancholic, yet hopeful, mood and once again takes you on a beautiful soulful journey for the duration of the album. It is hard to pick a favourite but Drew, Annabel and Stranger are the tracks right there at the top, if you loved their early works you will love this album.
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on 22 February 2015
Apart from having a fantastic name, Goldfrapp have also had a reasonable amount of success since their formation in 1999. They've had 2 Grammy Award nominations and a Mercury Prize shortlisting and their latest album "Tales Of Us" is their 4th Top 10 UK album in a row. Although all of their albums have been characterised by Alison Goldfrapp's soft vocals and the musical arrangements they overlay, their sound has been in a constant states of flux, with very few of their albums sounding much like the ones that have gone before.

When I was much younger, I remember lying wrapped up warm and cosy in bed on a weekend morning and my Mum would have the washing machine or the vacuum cleaner running and the white noise would soothe me back to sleep of just make me feel somehow safe. In many places, I get exactly the same feeling from "Tales Of Us". This is not an album that you actively listen to as much as you put it on and let it affect you. You won't want to dance or sing along, but you may well find that, after a long day, many of the cares of the day will smooth away. "Tales Of Us", for me at least, is the aural equivalent of a soothing massage after a long run.

There's not an awful lot of variation here, but the album doesn't need it. It's not intended to be an album that will move you, it's intended as an album that will help you stop moving, stop rushing. This isn't just a club chill out album, it's a life chill out album. This is an album that will wrap you in its arms and rock your gently to sleep, unfurrow your brow and ease your mind. It is great value for 10 tracks and 44 minutes of music that will soothe in a far healthier way than any Valium and in a much cheaper way than any massage.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 21 September 2013
For me this is a disappointing album. It is very one-note, and each song is downbeat, apart from Drew, arguably. The instrumentation is very similar throughout, utilising subtle minimialist jazz and folk, which doesn't help. This would be bearable if each song was great; unfortunately, I have listened to Tales Of Us many times now and I can't hear a single song that matches Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain and Black Cherry heydey. I figured this would be an album that would reveal its greatness after repeated listens, but this is not the case. Interestingly, the song Stranger appears to be about Alison Goldfrapp's relationship with her audience at gigs, and even this seems to be a bit mordant. Alison, I think you should be happy you have an audience! The last track, Clay, seems to strain for epic but ends up sounding slight. All this does suggest to me that Goldfrapp are in a bit of a creative decline, but perhaps they'll find a way to reverse this.
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on 15 September 2013
Goldfrapp are like deep, dark moody oceans. They ebb and swell. At the top of each new wave is light frothy disco inspired pop. It glistens in the sparkling sunlight before crashing below to the brooding darkness of the next album. Tales of Us is deep, emotional and menacing. It's sexual without the sexy and sinister without the fear. Deep from the trough Alison's voice rains over menacing and moody musical backgrounds. She breathes more than sings. The result is a beautiful foreboding. A calm before the storm. Magical. Magnificent.
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on 17 September 2013
The more I play this album, the more I hear something new every time. Both simplistic and complex; elements of 'Felt Mountain' & 'Seventh Tree' draw me closer with every listen. Ten tracks, or tales, each named after a character (real & fictional) in Alison's world. Her stories take you to different places as the album plays on; the mood dividing; making you feel rather sombre yet uplifted at the same time.

The demented waltz-like serenity on 'Jo' is captivating and the glissando in her voice during 'Simone' emphasises the mood, shock and possible anger behind the story. 'Drew', a song about past experiences, is enjoyed through fond memories; accompanied by a stunning video mirroring times gone by.

The powerful and emotional vocal on stand-out track 'Clay'; the woeful yet hopeful lyrics; boasts the celebration of something so beautifully tragic. The use of irony in her voice and chosen words blends with the disdain and the hope for something that never was. The crescendo in the strings; a sudden and dramatic finish, almost as if a door to an unlikely next chapter is being left open in the story.

You almost feel as if you are listening to something recorded over a century ago on a gramophone, especially with 'Laurel' where we are treated to a vocal from her lower register. The line 'I want to swim your silk black skin to the floor' from 'Alvar' is one of many of Alison's finest lyrics on this record.

The ghost-like whistling phrases that answer Alison's soft voice on 'Stranger' make the piece what it is; mysteriously enchanting. The anonymity of the subject really sets it apart from the rest of the album.

For me, this is Goldfrapp at their best; a welcome return to Will's orchestral arrangements of Seventh Tree; Alison's captivating vocals of 'Felt Mountain' and lyrics that are reminiscent of one of my all time favourite albums; 'Black Cherry'.
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on 4 March 2017
Album number 6 sees Alison abandon the electronics and making a recording most reminiscent of her debut, although musically it is more simple. This is an album made up of ballads, often with a musical backing of piano and acoustic guitar. It lacks the atmospheric effects of Felt Mountain or the more complex arrangements of Seventh Tree, the other two non electronic offerings.
Unfortunately it's all rather too samey with so little variation that at times it veers into the forgettable. The previous 5 albums were all excellent, regardless of their style and Tales Of Us is definitely her weakest release. It is a shame because there are good songs which would be showcased to better effect if they were interspersed with some more uptempo or stylistically different tracks. It's not a bad album, but knowing what Goldfrapp are capable of, it is to my ears a let down.
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