There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Alison Goldfrapp has a problem: She’s Patti LaBelle stuck in the body of a morose English indie chick. Both sides are quite literally on display in the packaging of her eponymous band’s new album, Black Cherry: The cover shows a glammed-up Goldfrapp sporting a lace collar and a low-cut dress, her frizzed-out hair obscured by a homburg. The inside photo shows her in a pea coat and sunglasses, hair down, looking like first runner-up in a Bridget Cross look-alike contest. Musically, though, there’s no question as to who’s dominating. First single “Train” is a tribute to both the old in and out and the old razzle-dazzle, the kind of bloozy synthesizer romp you used to hear only from Europop weirdos along the lines of Klaus Nomi. As keyboardist Will Gregory tweaks the filters on his two-note analog backing, Goldfrapp struts around like Christina Aguilera with an MFA, purring such sexy nonsense as “Nasal douche/Poolside line/Soft-lit tan/What’s your sign?” You can practically hear her waving her top hat around. As you might imagine, it’s pretty hard for a nerdy girl to prevail against this type of competition, and Goldfrapp’s inner diva eventually emerges victorious over the course of Black Cherry. Sure, there are moments when she threatens to bust out of her furry pink handcuffs, such as the dreamy “Forever,” the closest the group comes to its relatively sexed-down debut, 2000’s Felt Mountain. But for the most part, Naughty Alison is your host tonight, cooing “Excite me/Ignite me” for the languid title track and sighing her way through the New Wave-ish “Tiptoe,” which seems to be about walking on a partner’s back in what we can only assume are very high heels. And then there are the coital noises she makes over the closing swampy instrumental, called, ahem, “Slippage.” Given that Goldfrapp broadcasts irony much more easily than she does pheromones, it’s perhaps not the most successful transformation. But who’s going to notice? Singing, “Put your dirty angel face/Between my legs and knicker lace” is a surefire way to preclude any discussion of a sophomore slump. Andrew Beaujon