Bath, England singer/composer/keyboardist Alison Goldfrapp began exploring music as part of her studies as a fine art painting major at Middlesex University, mixing sound, visuals, and performances in her installation pieces. While she was still in college, she appeared on her friend Tricky’s 1995 debut, Maxinquaye, which led to appearances on albums from other cutting-edge electronic artists, including Orbital’s Snivilisation and Add N to (X)’s Avant Hard. By the late ’90s, Goldfrapp began honing her own compositions; one of her friends passed some of her demos on to composer Will Gregory. Finding much in common in their musical tastes and approaches, the duo took Alison’s surname as the name for their collaboration. After signing to Mute in 1999, Goldfrapp delivered their debut album, Felt Mountain, in fall 2000. Felt Mountain went on to nearly universal acclaim and spawned several singles, including the Utopia Genetically Enriched EP, which arrived in early 2001.
After spending most of that year touring, Goldfrapp entered the studio in 2002 and returned with Black Cherry in spring 2003. The “Ooh La La” single and the full-length Supernature, both of which continued the disco and glam rock influences of the duo’s previous album, were released in 2005; 2008’s The Seventh Tree moved in a more acoustic but equally lush direction. In 2009, the group released its score to Sam Taylor-Wood’s film about John Lennon as a youth, Nowhere Boy, which they recorded with a full orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. The smoothly poppy Head First, led by the Italo-disco-inspired “Rocket,” arrived in March 2010. Two years later, the Singles collection, which featured the previously unreleased songs “Yellow Halo” and “Melancholy Sky,” summed up the group’s career to date.
Taking inspiration from classic authors and auteurs such as Patricia Highsmith, David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni, sessions for their sixth studio album began in the first half of 2011. However, no new music from the duo appeared until mid-2013, when they undertook their first live dates in 18 months and released the irresistible, dreamlike single “Drew.” Arriving in September 2013, Tales of Us also included short films for five of its songs directed by Alison’s partner, Lisa Gunning. For 2017’s eclectic Silver Eye, the duo worked with collaborators including co-producers John Congleton and the Haxan Cloak as well as guitarist Leo Abrahams. ~ Heather Phares