Those introduced to Goldfrapp via the electro-glam of 2005's Supernature or 2003's Black Cherry might be confused by the restrained, near-acoustic vibe of the new Seventh Tree. But those who remember the duo's ambient 2000 debut Felt Mountain might sense that Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory are simply returning to their roots—though the new album is anything but a regression. Retaining only the most basic indicators of its electronica designation, Seventh Tree is full of delicate, nuanced songs that reward careful listening through high-end headphones. The downtempo tunes sounds a little samey on first listen, but they gradually unfold into a quilt of sonic textures, warm orchestration, and ethereal vocals.
Though the album's most subdued songs are ultimately its most rewarding ("Clowns" and "Monster Love" are both beautiful), at some points they threaten to cross from ambient into easy-listening territory—namely during the plodding "Eat Yourself." Ultimately, though, the disc is buoyed by an underlying pop sensibility, epitomized by the bubbly "A&E;" and "Caravan Girl." After the group's hit-or-miss synth-pop detour, Seventh Tree situates Goldfrapp where it was always meant to be.