By Katherine Turman
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In the U.K., they play alongside Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand. But in the U.S., Goldfrapp are the great crossover synth-pop band that never was. Unlike most electronica acts that pride themselves on encyclopedia-like references to the genre's esoteric underground, Goldfrapp have always warmly embraced a pop-music aesthetic.
Supernatureis their most radio-friendly work yet. The formula isn't that complicated: Producer Will Gregory tweaks '80s synth-pop with moody ambience and Alison Goldfrapp's breathy, '60s-noir catwalk vocals. The results strut with disco attitudeso much so that Madonna has actually cited Goldfrapp as inspiration, even cribbing Alison's signature leotard-hose look.
Sexy camp crackles through Supernature like a live electric current, but not in an obvious way. Instead, Goldfrapp's specialty is teasing out seductive vibes by juxtaposing hard and soft musical elements. Thick bass pummels through Alison's operatic vocals ("Slide In" and "Fly Me Away"), while sweet, honky-tonk piano keys poke into a rowdy cabaret ("Satin Chic").
In interviews, the Frapps love to mention how they've retreated into a world of their own creation. They record their albums in remote cabins in the wilderness; they conjure artwork of naked humans with animal heads; they make their own clothes. Their quirkiness is intriguing, but ironically, their insular confidence has helped shape an increasingly accessible sound. Now if only American charts would take notice.