The English duo could have let its label slap together a quickie hits package, but synth man Will Gregory and namesake frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp opted to sweeten The Singles, released in January on Mute, with a couple of new tunes.
One, "Yellow Halo," is a shimmering synth-pop tribute to Goldfrapp's late mother. The other, the comparatively organic "Melancholy Sky," brings together horns, strings and sleigh bells, calling to mind the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds.
"That says quite a lot about the worlds we've inhabited, I suppose," Goldfrapp tells Spinner, describing the new songs. "We've always played with a kind of acoustic sound, but we're really into the synth thing as well."
That contrast -- halcyon and high energy -- has been the one constant in Goldfrapp's eclectic discography. The group debuted in 2000 with Felt Mountain, a collection of swank, electro-tinged folk and cabaret tunes. The livelier compositions, among them the single "Utopia," grooved like '60s James Bond themes, but not even those hinted at the sexier music that was to come.
Released in 2003, Black Cherry marked Goldfrapp's entree into dance music. They'd gone from lazy Sundays to neon Saturday nights, and for a time, it seemed there was no turning back. On the follow-up, 2005's breakthrough Supernature, Goldfrapp and Gregory came with hardier, sparklier, more glammed-out jams. They toured the States with Depeche Mode and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
While they followed that set with 2008's sleepy, pastoral left turn Seventh Tree, they remain best known, at least in some circles, for their proto-Gaga club fare.
"I think there are two schools," Goldfrapp says. "Supernature was our most commercial album, and it definitely was the album that seemed to resonate in America. There's a group of people who like that side of Goldfrapp more, but there's also the group of people who like the Seventh Tree Goldfrapp more ... the more ethereal sound."
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"Atmosphere and visual references are things that inspire me to make music and inspire lyrics as well," Goldfrapp says. "I read a lot and go to the cinema a lot. I live in the countryside as well as live in London. I'm constantly looking around me at things that inspire me."
In that sense, she's closed off from "the world of pop music," a place she's always found less than hospitable. Despite her revealing costumes, seductive singing and overtly sexual performances, she describes herself as extremely introverted. In the group's early days, her shyness led some journalists to label her cool and aloof. Success has only complicated things.
"It's made me less withdrawn and then in other ways more withdrawn," she says. "I don't really know how to explain it. I'm much better than I used to be when we first started. I was really intensely shy and awkward. And I still am. I'm less shy. It's a funny old thing, but I think a lot of creative people are like that."
A handful of phone interviews for The Singles aside, Goldfrapp can look forward to a 2012 largely free from press and completely devoid of live performances. She and Gregory have started work on their next album, and until it drops, likely sometime in 2013, they won't be hitting the road.
"I feel like I'm stepping back from things and clearing the decks," Goldfrapp says. "I want to sort out a few things in our business life, if you like, and also in the creative life. It's a really good time for us to take our time and revel -- it sounds like the beginning -- in having that space and not feeling rushed by anyone. So we're enjoying that."