GOLDFRAPP The Seventh Tree ***** Mute CDSTUMM280, £12.99
Having strutted her stuff on musical platform soles with this record's predecessor, Supernature, Alison Goldfrapp goes metaphorically barefoot round the Seventh Tree, cooing to 'The Little Bird', or just getting giddy with 'Happiness'.
Not that this is a stripped down alfresco organic affair after the quasi glam rock stomp of 'Oh La La', nor is there a whiff of any hippy dippy stuff in this beautifully constructed pastoral setting, where Will Gregory's woozy electronica steers clear of ambient waffle through the flexing of musical muscle.
There are Goldfrapp guitars bringing a different character to the arrangements from the off, picking out the languid introduction on 'Road To Somewhere', or the warm crackle of the archive jazzateering of 'Eat Yourself'.
This is a partnership at its peak. Alison's singing glides effortlessly from the atmospherics of the opening 'Clowns', featuring a dreamy soprano, to the rural romp of 'Caravan Girl'. Gregory's arrangements extend from the delicious suspended bass line and sky high super bad strings on 'Cologne Cerrone Houdini', which sounds like the Cocteau Twins frolicking in The Beatles' 'Strawberry Fields', to the clever pop construct of the single 'A & E'.
The Seventh Tree is an impressively complete piece of work, an album in the fine tradition and a fitting swan song if the format has run its course.
Download this: The whole album. Or… Cologne Cerrone Houdini, Caravan Girl