"The Singles" is essentially a career overview for genre-smashing trip-hop pioneers Goldfrapp. It features tracks from all five of their albums plus two brand new songs written especially for this compilation. "The Singles" is an entrancing journey through the electro-ballad atmosphere of "Felt Mountain" to the dance distortion of "Black Cherry," the glittering glamor of their most successful album in "Supernature," to the unique electro-folk vibe of "Seventh Tree" before ending with their latest, retro-future "Head First."
It begins with the trancy, yet catchy, single "Ooh La La" from their 2006 album "Supernature." Throbbing bass alternates with Alison Goldfrapp's breathy, mysterious vocals to create one of the group's most recognizable songs. Another one of those indelible Goldfrapp songs is the light industrial track "Strict Machine." Featured in an episode of the TV show "Charmed," "Strict Machine" was many a fan's introduction to the burgeoning group.
"Lovely Head" from their debut, "Felt Mountain," brings out a mysterious cabaret sound complete with a ghostly instrumental wailing in the background that occasionally takes up solo duties throughout the song. "Utopia" continues the mournful, mysterious sound, successfully highlighting the minor vibe of "Felt Mountain".
"A&E" and the following track, "Happiness" bring the understated folky vibe of "Seventh Tree" into the mix. The latter track is undeniably catchy with its bouncy chorus of "Happiness. How'd you get to be happiness," before "Train" returns to the mix of pop and industrial that defined their second album "Black Cherry." Next, "Ride A White Horse" transitions easily back to the electro-dance of "Supernature". Two tracks from "Head First" include the insistently catchy "Rocket" and the more understated "Believer". The title track from "Black Cherry" is not an especially single-quality song, with nothing inherently catchy or interesting in its composition.
The end of the album yields two original songs, "Yellow Halo" and "Melancholy Sky." The former is a soft, repetitive synth-pop track that soars, but does not enter any new territory, while the latter and ending track takes more of a new wave direction, but continues the ballad theme of the previous track and brings the album to a quiet close.
For the most, "The Singles" is a a good representation of Goldfrapp's trademark sound. The new tracks could have contained a bit more oomph, or something that would have separated them from any other electro-pop ballad, but the compilation is a solid intro into the world of Goldfrapp.
"The Singles" is out February 7, 2012 via Astralwerks.