One of my favorite musical sub-genres is sort of an off-shoot of trip-hop, a sultry urban electropop district where the downbeat influence of Portishead meets up with all kinds of interesting characters dressed like David Bowie in the ’70s. California pure pop a la Burt Bacharach, for instance, which we find in the likes of Saint Etienne (and the solo work of singer Sarah Cracknell), Mono and Hooverphonic.
These groups are almost always fronted by female vocalists, and every year or two I trip across another one that just blows me away. In 2002 it was Frou Frou, and in 2005 the duo’s singer, Imogen Heap, knocked us out with the brilliant Speak for Yourself. Black Box Recorder did two or three must-have CDs and singer Sarah Nixey’s solo debut last year was one of my Gold LP winners. Hooverphonic has a great new release out this year that will likely be in the Gold LP category, as well.
Then there’s our band of the week, Goldfrapp, a British outfit fronted by singer/keyboardist Alison Goldfrapp. 2003’s Black Cherry was a tour de force of slinky, hooky technofascism and last year’s Supernature showed us what happens when post-Portishead trip meets … T. Rex? Gods, Marc Bolan must be dry-humping in his grave. (More…)