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Random Jukebox: Goldfrapp’s Human

Sometimes you just have to roll with the selections of the random jukebox, and today it put on its red shoes and picked Human, a delicious standout from Goldfrapp’s glacial debut album from 2000, Felt Mountain.

Not everyone can trade the Cocteau Twins for T. Rex, and then T. Rex for Marlene Dietrich so seamlessly, but British duo Goldfrapp made high art of trashy electro and found legitimate glamour in their glam-pop. Though not without a wink.

Alison Goldfrapp (she’s the come-hither one with the sensual vocals and love of camp high drama), and film composer Will Gregory each brought to Alison’s namesake pairing a pedigree in dramatic synth-driven music — she with Orbital, he with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Portishead.

Inspired by classical music and the French fumblings of Serge Gainsbourg, with a veneer of cool picked up via collaborations with Tricky, among others, Felt Mountain is a decadent debut: a journey into stylised darkness and corruption that shimmers with a film of glossy seediness.

The set‘s third single from 2001, Human is an electronically epic genre-bending of Technicolor, Bassey-esque torch song and middle eastern-influenced trip hop if ever there was one. Even while the fledgling 45 is a pared down version of the gaudy, glittery electroclash recordings to come, the streamlined, dreamy pop transcendence is beguiling.

It’s not their most famous blend of big synthesizers, big drama and bigger hooks, but it may well be their best.

And is that a sly reference to Roxy Music’s Country Life on the cover?

The prairie rose is blooming.

Steve Pafford

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