'Silver Eye' by Goldfrapp, album review by Owen Maxwell.

Mute Records



Silver Eye

There’s a very familiar but magical feel to a group like Goldfrapp’s music that always sounds like something you know but never sounds old. On their seventh album the band makes dance-pop so instantly tantalizing that it won’t feel like a guilty pleasure. Along with this the band tries for a more explorative and pensive sound that balances out their pop, for a record that earns its indulgence. Besides, with writing this good you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who won’t be moving to it.

“Anymore” blows the album open on a commanding pop, with overtones of some earlier 2000’s electronic-pop, driven up to intense peaks. The scratching bass, rolling hooks and heavenly backing vocals make it a tight package of beat and pop. But if the sugary pop wasn’t to your liking the dark glitchy drive of “Systemagic” and its overpowering growling bass-line will grab you and throttle you around with its quirky production. The entrancing harmonies that drift in and out mixed with the solos make for a track that will make you want to dance foolishly when it comes on.

They get moody however on “Tigerman” opting for a more ambient and drawn out sound, building soaring soundscapes that always feel on the cusp of going somewhere but unfortunately never completely do. On the rushing “Become The One” the pushing bass and drums allow the synth and vocals to build to the running choruses in a mantra-like repetition. While not as climactic as one would like there extra touches on the additional keyboard lines make up for the lack of blooming moments on the track.

With a synth sound pulled out of a Kubrick film, “Faux Suede Drifter” crafts a dreamy synth wash that engulfs and lulls, while its faded harmonies elevate the already heightened luscious quality of the track. “Zodiac Black” on the other hand subverts its distant sound with heavy hitting choruses that disturb as much as they intrigue. The track bears an inherently cinematic quality to its composition, and its final screeching synth line is ecstasy after the tension the song builds towards it.

Going back to some more pop sounds “Beast That Never Was” is a slow-building, sparse and pensive track that lets bass lines crawl in, while synth lines layer slowly over the course of it. Alternatively the upbeat pop drops in distinctly on a track like “Everything Is Never Enough,” chugging along with tiny bell rings to brighten up the sound. Cascading harmonies, expanded with flanger soar as the beat takes over the song’s spirit and euphoric choruses are overflowing with intense emotion and life.

“Moon In Your Mouth” takes a night time angle on the band’s heavy synth pop sound, with certain keys having a cosmic quality to them while Alison’s vocals push the ethereal quality of the song. Feeling like almost from a different album, the closer “Ocean” has a very choppy, and epic sound to it, with much more intent behind its rhythms than many other tracks on the record. It hits with a bombastic finale mixing high-gained drums and synths with Alison’s desperate cries.

Silver Eye is an album that’s very telling of a band at a crossroads. Bookends of the album have a distinct, killer pop quality that is much more thought out than your average dance-pop track, while the middle of the record is clearly a much moodier, and searching kind of record. The issue is these two sounds feel so disconnected that while they make the record accessible to a wider crowd, they feel so separated that they could have been their own EPs. A strong record on either side but somewhat dragged down by its dissonance, this is clearly a band with talent but one that also needs to spend some time to either land on a distinct sound or find a way to blend their two voices together to avoid an album that feels so clearly cut.

review by Owen Maxwell