Switch me on
Turn me up
Don’t want it Baudelaire
Just glitter lust
Switch me on
Turn me up
I want to touch you
You’re just made for love
She was singing to me folks, just me. It was 2005, I’d just got older than Jesus and I was very profoundly in love with Alison and it was clearly mutual. Ladies and gentlemen I give you my last bona fide pop crush and Goldfrapp Supernature.
Having fallen for Goldfrapp’s charms on their Black Cherry LP* I’d used the time between that and the release of Supernature to work myself up into a real lather. Here was sonically interesting, synth music that was equal parts disco, glam rock and cool European stuff I was too unsophisticated to name, all beautifully presented with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek Carry On Synthing, slap on the rump, how’s-your-father, nudge-nudge wink-wink sensibility. I just quite simply fell madly in love with titular dame Alison Goldfrapp and all her winsome wit and wisdom. This was some seriously clever music that appealed to the head, the feet and the underpants simultaneously.
Before the album came out Goldfrapp released the best track on it as a single, of course Ooh La La which is just the perfect glam disco storm, if you could amp up and record a glitter ball this is exactly what it would sound like. If this song were a child she would be called Roxy Bolan. A suitably oblique lyric about phones, superficial sex and not much else is enhanced by Ms Goldfrapp’s purring delivery. This track is remarkable for featuring the sound of an electric guitar, well-hidden, on it the first time any had been used on a Goldfrapp track. Did I mention how wonderful it is yet? The ‘yeah’ after the broken heel/never walk again line is possibly my all-time favourite ‘yeah’ in the history of music. True story.
The video is a real hoot too, a proper homage to 1970’s glamsters on Top of the Pops, up to and including a bored looking drummer:
Needless to say I had to buy two 12″s of Ooh La La, the normal one just had three dance mixes and I had to buy a promo one to get the original 12″ extended version which is my fave version of ‘Ooh la La’ by far**. Of the mixes the Benny Benassi mixes are okay but only a pale shadow of the heights he reached on Goldfrapp’s ‘Strict Machine’, but the ‘Tiefschwarz Dub’ remix is really rather excellent too, bringing the track up to 2005 dancefloor speed very cleverly adding to it, without doing much subtracting from it. Clever stuff.
But I digress, Supernature touched down upon an unworthy world in August 2005, delicately placing one glitter-shod heel after another precisely on the dirty pavement of our desires. Named, in part, after the Cerrone sci-fi disco-concept epic*^ and partly after their obsession with nature, Supernature made an impact. It needs to be remembered of course that Goldfrapp are a duo and whilst Alison Goldfrapp donated her surname and sits very much front and centre, Will Gregory is very much half of the band – despite not touring or videoing, he is the synthmeister behind their sound. But I never fancied him very much, so let’s concentrate on my last great pop crush instead!
Straight after the glam smash opener I spent far too many words describing above, the icy disco of ‘Lovely 2 C U’ tingles my pleasure centres very agreeably. When I listen to this track I see it, rather than hear it; a blue white neon, a slightly sterilized icicle ambience befitting a certain disquiet in the lyrics. ‘Ride a White Horse’, umm, rides in on a wonderful bassline and is absolutely, absolutely not about face drugs. Nope. Alison’s mannered mechanistic Teutonic tone here reduces helpless me to a quivering pool of pure frothing lust^. Oh and did I mention the song is about Bianca Jagger’s stunt at Studio 54 and not remotely about powder?
Supernature goes a little introspective next, as befits an LP where the lead singer can be seen on the gatefold in a forest of sparkly black glitter penises sporting only a peacock tail, impossibly high gold platforms and a rather knowing look. ‘You Never Know’ is another wonderful moment for me, the lush-in-a-staccato-way backing opulence, contrasts wonderfully with Goldfrapp’s multi-octave vocal gymnastics. It’s a real triumph of surface over depth and I mean that in an entirely complimentary manner, it sounds like polished smoky glass. Whereas ‘Let It Take You’ which walks in Kate Bush’s moccasins a little, sounds inordinately like someone singing a torch song over one of those intensive care machines that go ‘Beep’ a lot in films. It’s great.
I’m a little less enamoured with the 80’s pop sheen of ‘Fly Me Away’, it is a nice confection but a little slight by the standards set elsewhere on this album. The electro sex pop of ‘Slide In’ being a case in point, good job I’m a man of strong moral fibre or I might start waxing lyrical about its’ shimmering slickness, its frictionless fruitiness and other delights. The oddball Cockney piano strut halfway through the hyperactive ‘Satin Chic’ is just full-on bonkers and is precisely the sort of thing that makes me love this LP, especially coming after the silky Gary Numan in knickers ride that is ‘Koko’.
The only real misstep on Supernature is ‘Time Out From This World’ which is a little bit of a throwback to their Felt Mountain days, aiming for a vast stately world-encompassing ballad, the sort of thing that only a duet between Shirley Bassey and Zeus could do justice to, it falls short of that. It isn’t bad or anything, just a retrograde step when everything around it is strutting and swaying. Speaking of which …
What a perfect, bouncy, sexy way to end an album. ’nuff said. How right are those opening lines? we’re verging on Blondie perfect here:
Walk out into velvet
Nothing more to say
You’re my favorite moment
You’re my Saturday
Supernature is not Goldfrapp’s best album but it marked the high water mark of their whole act for me. I’ve liked their albums less and less since, to the point where I stopped buying them – an unthinkable stance for me back in 2005. Maybe that is the inevitable consequence of love, still we’ll always have the memories of the good times and we can either use them to tear us apart, or to console ourselves; head feet and pants.
Walk out into velvet
Nothing more to say
*easily a Top 10 album for me.
**I also had to buy and willingly did several CD singles to chase down all the mixes for this release. Mug.
*^which they used as the intro music on the tour for Supernature.
^ so be careful where you step, that goo eats right through leather.