Culture: Music

DREW: Goldfrapp release the first track from their sixth album, Tales of Us

Alison Goldfrapp

“Open the door wide, feel the cold arrive, in my bones”

To hear Goldfrapp’s new effort Drew is tantamount to prising open a locked box of childhood photos and letting your memories soar around and taunt you with all sorts of joy and tragedy. A four and a half minute odyssey of goose-bumps and near-tears, Drew is a beautiful garden swing back to Goldfrapp’s defining debut album Felt Mountain (2000) whilst presenting a renewed wisdom about the human condition.

“Remember the time we stood there by the lake”

Totally a Goldfrapp project for the poetic hipster ensemble with a sound that can only be theirs, this is the first single from the forthcoming album Tales of Us and already the bar is set high (and covered in beautiful roses… and their thorns). An elegant mix of intimate melancholy and soaring orchestrations, Drew is a burn and crash of a summer ode – where Sundays melt into bike rides and Nick Drake guitars roll with the quality of that powerful moment when that one person starts plucking a hazy tune alongside you at a hazy picnic.

There is a maturity to Drew that Goldfrapp have of course demonstrated since Felt Mountain, but perhaps here now chimes with their own ages, personal experiences and gender-free agenda. The enigma of Alison Goldfrapp is less a mystery now. And if anyone can get into your mind and haunt your soul with her music it is Ms Goldfrapp.

The desolation of Drew has never sounded so perfect. Or tempting. Or urgent. Reminiscent of the work of film composer Adrian Johnston and his ability to align the English condition with notions of heritage and unspoken personal loss, Drew is like a musical caress of a loved one who hasn’t woken up yet. It is about knowing you are the only one in the house, the only one awake and the only one remembering moments in time. It flits effortlessly between Alison Goldfrapp’s whispered vocals and Will Gregory’s cinematic influences that are both a melodramatic English summer of a sound but curiously also contain the wider narrative nods to Ennio Morricone, one of Gregory’s stated influences.

Coming from a band whose filmic references are equal to their musical ones, Drew also echoes that late 1960s blend of folk and horror as heard in The Wicker Man and notably Krzysztof Komeda’s uneasy opening lullaby for Rosemary’s Baby (1968). And like all great bands who are in such charge of their music and videos, it is instantly hard to separate the two. Co-created by Alison Goldfrapp and girlfriend Lisa Gunning, the visual accompaniment (“video” feels too cheap a label) is a black and white landscape of imagined summers and poised embraces, bi-sexual friendships and abandoned mansions.

Lovers and friends gambol naked in a summer haze in visuals deliberately just too bright but never pessimistic. Gunning’s suggestion that everyone is a long remembered ghost and Goldfrapp’s rhythmical grace runs with every cut. This short film is to be the first part of a Gunning’s film to accompany Tales of Us, due for release later in 2013. Already it feels like a special work. Drew is a multi-sexual dream of lost hopes, missed hopes and the ones yet to come. As film accompaniments go, it is sublimely good. As songs go, Drew is perfection.

Drew, the single, is available from 15 July 2013. The album Tales of Us is out on 9 September 2013 (UK) and 10 September 2013 (US).

Mark O’Connell is a writer, cultural punditeer and author of Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan.

Words: Mark O’Connell

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