Heart of Goldfrapp

6 November 2008

Behold Goldfrapp: the eponymous Alison, Will Gregory and accoutrements, comprising four or so moonstruck-looking peripherals, assorted flowing robes, bandanas, a rather businesslike upright harp, Jesus lookalikes and sundry tra-la-las, tied together with a generally competent ethereal manner and a decent light show. The flagship band of the folktronica movement (and isn’t folktronica such an egregiously silly word?), Goldfrapp only really have two songs: their wafty, folksy acoustic ballad avec synthesisers and a kind of bulging-basslined new-wave boogie electroclash hoedown. Very little of their opus – there’s some hazy Portisheadesque trip-hopic stuff, and that’s about it – sits on the fence between cock-a-doodle-doo bucolic fantasia and sexed-up electro Disneyland. Generally speaking, the band alternated between these two, but once I caught them sneakily playing the same song twice in a row. You’re not getting anything past me, Goldfrapp. Mark my words.

So Goldfrapp may not have quite enough musical ideas to fill an ashtray, but the ability some bands have to vomit originality up and down the stairs for an hour straight turns out to be no prerequisite for Goldfrapp’s amorous, vanilla-scented regime of lush synthpop. All of their posturing is suspiciously enjoyable, and at the sold-out Corn Exchange (unpleasant; believed by many scholars to be the true origin of the legend of the Black Hole Of Calcutta) I understood the seething patina of move it move it with which the band managed to paper the floor.

Staple set closer ‘Strict Machine’ is legitimately anthemic stuff, and Alison Goldfrapp’s echoing peal, “I’m in love with a strict machine,” is fresher each time she expels it from her incredible lungs. Goldfrapp’s voice is what really redeems her band, bouncing off the walls like a rubber ball.

Set highlights from the pastoral folk-rock side of the garden included glittery megahit ‘A & E’ and the shiver-inducing ‘Monster Love’.

Notwithstanding the abovementioned ‘Strict Machine’, the best of the bouncier cuts were ‘Number One’ (the sound of buying some pasta, sauce and meat then skipping down the street while juggling them into a lasagne, eating it with unseemly gusto anon) and the simply libidinous ‘Ooh La La’ (“Switch me on / Turn me up / I want to touch you / You’re just made for love / I need ooh la la la, I need ooh la la la la la la la, I need ooh la la la x20 et al, can I haz ooh la la “), which was just an energetic delight.

A Goldfrapp gig shouldn’t be considered an investment in your cultural portfolio, but you’ll get your money’s worth in sugary rural dream-pop, pneumatic salacious electroclash fuzz and nothing in between. You can’t fail to have an enjoyable night.