No Baudelaire, Just Glitter Lust

Goldfrapp’s ongoing project of reissuing their albums on vinyl has given me a good chance to revisit those records (all of which I have obsessed over to some degree) and write about them a second time, if only to see how time has treated the music, and to gauge my own visceral reaction to it compared to 15 years ago. Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory made some of my favourite music of the 2000s, and the way my own musical taste evolves, I’m definitely hearing these reissues in a different way than before.

Back when I wrote about the Supernature album in the summer of 2005, I noted that I was impressed by the record, albeit a tiny bit dismayed that the duo followed the same musical concept as heard on Black Cherry two years earlier. Looking back, though, you can’t blame them. Their glammy, edgy, disco-tinged singles were attracting a wide audience (especially in the UK) and it only made sense to strike while the iron was hot. It paid off, too, as Supernature went on to sell more than a million copies, and it had three number one dance singles in the US. You can’t argue with that kind of success.

Black Cherry will always be a big favourite of mine partially because of how much that record upended my expectations. However, getting back into Supernature this year, I’m surprised by how well it has aged. It’s actually a much more consistent album than its predecessor. If Black Cherry was the sound of experimentation, then Supernature is the sound of that experimentation becoming fully realized. It’s so slick, highlighted of course by its more propulsive tracks. The flashy, shuffling “Ooh La La” was the album’s biggest single. “Ride a White Horse” completely nails the sound of a blasé-sounding Italo-disco diva, “Fly Me Away” is refreshingly breezy, “Satin Chic” has a lot of fun with some very strong glam rock influences, and “Number 1” is a pounding dance track masquerading as a sweet love song.

The deeper cuts are equally strong, but just subtler. “You Never Know”, “Time Our From the World”, and “Let it Take You” incorporate the more ambient sounds of 2001’s Felt Mountain, while “Slide In” skillfully combines that experimentation with the pair’s more dance-oriented inclinations. Supernature was part of that peak Goldfrapp run from 2001 through 2008. The music they’ve made since has all been sterling, but there was something special about that run of albums, and Supernature definitely deserves to be regarded as one of Goldfrapp’s several creative peaks.