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Sexy synths abound in 'Silver Eye'

Goldfrapp returns to the sounds that made it famous

<p>Though "Silver Eye" isn't always exciting, there is still a lot to love.</p>

Though "Silver Eye" isn't always exciting, there is still a lot to love.

Goldfrapp — the musical duo comprising of vocalist Alison Goldfrapp and producer Will Gregory — propelled its career with atmospheric synths that evoked sex, dance and danger. Since then, it has garnered a reputation for periodically switching up its image, exploring folktronica with “Seventh Tree” in 2008 and ‘80s pop with “Head First” in 2010. While Goldfrapp’s latest album, “Silver Eye,” is neither straightforward nor consistently exciting, it harkens back to the sultry, experimental sounds the duo pioneered in the early 2000s.

Despite its connection to Goldfrapp’s earlier work, “Silver Eye” strives to be as undefinable and obscure as its titular moon metaphor. The bulk of the album is full of complicated comparisons and has minimal inclusion of lyricism, though there are some straightforward tracks.

Opening song “Anymore” is the album’s closest approximation to club music — showing how Alison Goldfrapp’s idea of a come-on is telling her lover that his “scent, like storms, is wild divine.” The track’s thumping bass and monosyllabic structure are perfect for the dance-floor and imbues the beginning of “Silver Eye” with a palpable energy that carries through the next four tracks.

However, by the album’s midpoint, that energy slows into a slew of homogeneous tracks. “Faux Suede Drifter,” “Zodiac Black” and “Beast That Never Was” are only slightly indistinguishable from each other, and their strange titles and repetitive phrases make grasping for meaning a chore.

Looking to the lyrics for interpretation may be a lost cause — generally, the songs are low in lyrical content but abundant with abstractions. While the songs of Goldfrapp’s 2013 album “Tales of Us” painted scenes of escapades with androgynous lovers and twinkling lights across frozen ponds, “Silver Eye” offers monosyllabic refrains with vague references to transformations, pagan rituals and animalistic figures in the night. The main figure of the song “Tigerman” seems like it should be easy to comprehend, but Alison Goldfrapp sings the name of the protagonist like a chant — offering little context for imagination besides the beast’s “immortal eyes” and sacrificial love.

Enjoying the album doesn’t require a firm grasp on any underlying meaning, as it thrives in creating an ethereal atmosphere where the physical, psychological and spiritual all coalesce into Alison Goldfrapp’s trademark icy vocals. She shines particularly in “Moon in Your Mouth,” an otherworldly ballad with a twinkling synth refrain that waxes and wanes underneath. This penultimate song reveals Alison at her most passionate — she breaths out the word “alive” with a sweet tenderness that comes closer to romantic love than pure sex.

However, this glimpse of romance is soon extinguished with the album’s closing track, “Ocean.” The song features Alison Goldfrapp at her most detached and hateful. This is exemplified by when she sings of the “borrowed bones [and] borrowed skin” that protect her from the unresolved fantasy of the same lover who held his distance at the album’s beginning. As the chorus crashes in with a menacing bass, Goldfrapp gives up the fight for meaning and closure and instead surrenders to the sonic atmosphere it has carefully crafted throughout “Silver Eye.”

“Silver Eye” excels in its artful conjuring of a sensual soundscape. However, with its void of comprehensible lyrics and proliferation of overly abstract imagery, the album marks an obscure and occasionally dull release from Goldfrapp.