Alison Goldfrapp is back, peeking out of the import racks on the cover of Goldfrapp's third full-length album, Supernature (Mute, 2006). Goldfrapp has never been a band to shy away from shocking imagery — after all, it was Alison's obsession with “tit tassles” that inspired the burlesque video for “Train,” and more than a few half-man — half-mammal creatures have graced their 12-inch sleeves. This time around, Alison's black-lacquered nails barely obscure the porcelain-smooth side of her breast, making it easy to see why she gets all the attention.
But while Alison embodies Goldfrapp's persona both onstage and in the media, she shares the spotlight in the studio with Goldfrapp's soft-spoken half, Will Gregory. “I think we both have a different angle on it,” he explains over the phone from the UK, where he and Alison are in rehearsals for Goldfrapp's fall tour. “If somebody's got an idea, then they try it out, and the other person cheers them on. Then, if they get stuck, they say, ‘Well, you have a go at it,’ and then the other person tries. It's a bit like running a relay race. When one person's tired, the other takes over.”
Struggling through a marathon fall schedule that includes 10 solo dates in the UK, as well as an additional 22 slots opening for Coldplay in Europe, Goldfrapp delayed the U.S. release of Supernature until March, promising bonus tracks and extra videos in exchange for stateside patience. British fans (and those in the U.S. willing to fork over for an import) already know that Supernature picks up where 2003's Black Cherry (Mute) left off. “Obviously, I think we carried on a bit in the same vein as before 'cause we really enjoyed that ‘Strict Machine,’ 'Train' sound,” Gregory says. “We felt we were learning more about those types of grooves, those simplified sound worlds. Before, we'd been a bit cinemascope, layering lots of sounds on top of each other. I think this time, we were maybe stripping back, toughening up the songwriting — at least, that's what it felt like.”
Although Supernature isn't another stylistic about-face, listeners will recognize Goldfrapp's maturity in songs that combine the sleazy disco-glam sound the pair perfected on Black Cherry with the ethereal cinematics of the duo's first album, Felt Mountain (Mute, 2000). “We will always try to develop,” Gregory says. “I think you've got to be careful as soon as you've got a formula, 'cause then you're just turning the handle, aren't you? We're very against that. We don't allow ourselves to get into that mentality because that would be complacence. We will always try to develop and rethink what we're doing just because we don't want to bore ourselves or become jaded. We're very obsessive and fastidious and insane. You can't just keep telling the same joke over and over.”