Felt Mountain is the debut album by English electronic duo Goldfrapp. It was released by Mute Records on 11 September 2000 in the United Kingdom. The album features Alison Goldfrapp's synthesized vocals in cinematic scope, and takes influence from a variety of music styles such as 1960s pop, cabaret, folk, and electronica.
Felt Mountain was a top seventy-five album in Goldfrapp's native United Kingdom, and was certified gold in October 2001. It was generally well received by music critics, and it was described as "simultaneously smarmy and seductive, yet elegant and graceful". In 2001, the album was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, an annual music prize awarded for the best British or Irish album from the previous year.
Recording and production
Goldfrapp signed a recording contract with London-based record label Mute Records in August 1999. The pair began recording their debut album over a six-month period, beginning in September 1999, in a rented bungalow in the Wiltshire countryside. The recording process was difficult for Alison Goldfrapp, who was often alone and disturbed by the mice and insects in the bungalow. Gregory described their recording sessions as intense because he was unaccustomed to composing with others. Goldfrapp contributed the album's lyrics, and Gregory and Goldfrapp composed the music together. The lyrics are abstract obsessional tales inspired by films, Goldfrapp's childhood, and the loneliness she felt while recording the album. Musically, the album takes influence from a variety of styles including 1960s pop, cabaret, folk, and electronica.
Felt Mountain received generally positive reviews from pop music critics. Allmusic reviewer Heather Phares described the album as "a strange and beautiful mix of the romantic, eerie, and world-weary" and called it "one of 2000's most impressive debuts." Eric Wittmershaus of Flak Magazine called Felt Mountain "an enchanting, accessible debut" and named "Human" and "Deer Stop" as its best songs. In a review for Pitchfork Media, Matt LeMay described the album as "elegant and graceful", but found that the "songs aren't all that different from one another." Musicomh.com reviewer Sacha Esterson compared Felt Mountain to Portishead and wrote that it could be a "contender for the year's best album". NME called the album "cold, desolate and old-fashioned" and argued that Felt Mountain was not a "bad concept" except that "Portishead got there first, and managed to update the spy-film vibe with a hefty dose of break-driven twilight melancholia."
Q magazine included the album in its list of the top fifty albums of 2000. The following year, Felt Mountain was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, an annual music prize awarded for the best British or Irish album from the previous year. In 2006, the album was included in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Chart performance and sales
Felt Mountain debuted on the UK albums chart at number hundred and forty-four, and sold 914 copies in its first week.In 2001, the album peaked at number fifty-seven, and has sold 177,096 copies as of August 2005. In October 2001, Felt Mountain was certified gold. In France, the album reached number forty-eight, and remained on the albums chart for eleven weeks. It reached the top forty in Germany and the top fifty in Australia and Austria.Felt Mountain received limited promotion in North America, and did not appear on any major album charts. The album, however, has sold 52,000 copies in the United States as of August 2006.
"Lovely Head", Felt Mountain's opening track, features high lonesome whistling and heavily processed vocals. The song was described as influenced by Shirley Bassey and released as the album's lead single. The second track, "Paper Bag", is about being obsessed with someone and not being able to have them. It is followed by the third single "Human", a track with a mambo-style beat. The fourth song, "Pilots", which describes travelers floating in the atmosphere above the earth, was inspired by John Barry's James Bond theme songs. In the United Kingdom, a remixed version of the song was released as a single and charted within the top seventy-five.
The ballad "Deer Stop" features childlike vocals and sexually suggestive lyrics. The title track was influenced by Goldfrapp's "idea of a wolf being whipped in this little Tudor house overlooking a snowy landscape". "Oompa Radar", the seventh track, was inspired by Roman Polanski's film Cul-de-Sac. The cabaret influenced song uses a flugelhorn and a cuckoo clock to switch between tempos. "Utopia" was released as the album's second single. The album closes with "Horse Tears", a minimalist piano ballad with filtered vocals.
All tracks written and composed by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, except where noted.
"Lovely Head" – 3:49
"Paper Bag" – 4:05
"Human" (Goldfrapp, Gregory, Locke, Norfolk) – 4:36
"Pilots" – 4:29
"Deer Stop" – 4:06
"Felt Mountain" – 4:17
"Oompa Radar" – 4:42
"Utopia" – 4:18
"Horse Tears" – 5:10
The following tracks were included on the UK and Spanish special editions of Felt Mountain.
"Pilots (On a Star)" – 3:57
"UK Girls (Physical)" (Olivia Newton-John cover) – 4:52
"Lovely Head" (Miss World mix) – 3:51
"Utopia" (New Ears mix) – 3:10
"Human" (Calexico vocal) – 4:50
"Human" (Masseys Cro-Magnon mix) – 5:56
"Utopia" (Tom Middleton's Cosmos vocal mix) – 8:19
The following people contributed to Felt Mountain:
Alison Goldfrapp – lead vocals, backing vocals, whistling, keyboards
Nick Batt – synthesizer, bass, percussion, programming, mixing, engineering
Will Gregory – synthesizer, keyboard, string arrangements, brass arrangements
Adrian Utley – bass
Tony Orrell, John Parish – drums
Rowen Oliver – percussion
Andy Bush – flugelhorn
John Cornick – trombone
Stuart Gordon – violin, viola
B. Waghorn – saxophone
Rowen Oliver – string ensemble
Dave Bascombe, Kevin Paul – mixing
David Lord, Kevin Paul – engineering
John Dent – mastering
Region Date Label Format(s) Catalog
United Kingdom 11 September 2000 Mute Records CD, LP, Digital download STUMM188
15 October 2001 CD (limited edition)
United States 19 September 2000 CD, Digital download MUTE9135
Spain October 2001 Everlasting Records CD, Digital download EVERCD150
Charts (2000) Peak
Australian Albums Chart 44
Austrian Albums Chart 44
French Albums Chart 48
German Albums Chart 36
Swiss Albums Chart 98
UK Albums Chart 57
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