If Goldfrapp’s last album was a big night out at the disco, then their latest is the sunlight of the next morning. 2006’s #Supernature# was an infectious dose of retro-futurist electro-glitter, with singer-namesake Alison Goldfrapp cooing euphemistically about wanting to “Ride A White Horse” and craving some “Ooh-La-La.” #Seventh Tree#, by contrast, starts with “Clowns,” a delicate ballad featuring little more than strings and light acoustic guitar, on which Goldfrapp mourns that “only clowns will play with dull balloons.” Even the peppier tracks, such as the bouncy “Happiness” and TV commercial-bound “Caravan Girl,” feel tired and hungover. But that is not a bad thing: There is a vulnerability here that gives the record a pure beauty the group has never before achieved.
Download: “Clowns, “Little Bird”
— Matthew Singer
Lust Lust Lust
Call it musique noir: “Aly, Walk With Me,” the opening track on the Raveonettes’ third album, is the song the Danish duo have been working toward their entire career, an ominous but irresistible invitation to an after-hours stroll through the empty streets of the American cityscape, one that pulsates with tense foreboding before immolating itself — twice — in a blaze of feedback. It is the fullest realization yet of the band’s shadowy cool. Everything else is classic Raves: bare-bones song structures, Kevin Shields-esque guitar fuzz, ethereal girl-group harmonies and the male-female vocals of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo freezing together to form the voice of an icy androgyne, its blood-red lips smirking through a long black veil.
Download: “Aly, Walk With Me,” “Hallucinations,” “You Want the Candy”
— Matthew Singer
Donita Sparks & the Stellar Moments
Donita Sparks of L7 rides again with this collection of fairly straightforward and — gasp! — occasionally catchy rock and/or roll. These stellar moments are alternately danceable, spacious and raucous, but work best when the sound is filthy and nervous, as on “He’s Got the Honey” and the opener “Fly Feather Fly.” Sparks founded Rock For Choice and encouraged countless teens worldwide to be empowered’n’stuff, so the silver-tongued rantings of one music critic won’t cause an anomaly in this particular matrix. Would I feel comfortable giving this to my illegitimate daughter during a child support court battle so that she may be inspired to take up an instrument and shake the dust of this crummy two-bit town off her feet? Absolutely.
Download: "He’s Got the Honey," "Dare Dare"
— David Cotner