August 12th, 2005


Oompa Radar (Part II)

The Junction, Cambridge, 8th August 2005

Thanks to sion_a we managed to get tickets for Goldfrapp's "hush-hush" pre-tour warm-up gig at the Junction on Monday. (Dear The Junction: if you want a gig to be secret, don't advertise it on your website and in the local papers. HTH.)

I sometimes worry about getting my facts wrong when I write reviews, but this time the award for most factually inaccurate gig review seems to have already been won. The non-existant support band, by the way, were The Shortwave Set, whose peculiar brand of scratchy psychedelic pop ("Saint Etienne meets Sergeant Pepper", apparently) I was quite happy to sample (as they were to sample everything else) for the duration of a half-hour set.

I'd been differently but equally impressed by Goldfrapp's first two albums -- from the lushly beautiful synthscapes of "Felt Mountain" to the feisty glam-pop of "Black Cherry" -- and, what with that and the infectiously stompy new single "Ooh La La" having already stamped itself on my brain through nonstop airplay on 6 Music, I expected good things of the new material.

I certainly wasn't disappointed. They mostly played material from the first two albums, but the new material that was aired sounded as good as the old stuff: no wildly new direction, but satisfyingly crunchy basslines combined with Alison Goldfrapp's confident and charismatic vocals make for a glam-pop cocktail that I'd happily drink all night. A heavily stripped-down and scrunched-up cover of "Yes Sir, I can boogie" took us by surprise (it took me a couple of choruses before I really believed what I was hearing), but certainly proved that their reputation as "pop alchemists" is justified -- they can transmute pop (and probably bass/metal) into pure Goldfrapp.