Black Cherry is the second studio album by English electronic music duo Goldfrapp, released in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2003 by Mute Records to generally positive reviews. Many critics complimented its blend of retro and modern electropop music, which was a departure from the ambient sound of their début album.Black Cherry was a top twenty album in Goldfrapp's native United Kingdom, and its second single "Strict Machine" was a top twenty single. It earned the band a nomination for Best British Dance Act at the 2004 BRIT Awards. The album was supported by the 2003–04 Black Cherry Tour.
The album represented a change in Goldfrapp's musical style, featuring glam rock and synthpop music; inspirations were Spanish disco group Baccara and Swedish techno artist Håkan Lidbo. In August 2005, the album was certified platinum in the UK, and had sold nearly 500,000 copies worldwide as of May 2005.
The duo wrote three songs while touring in support of their début album Felt Mountain but decided to take their work in a different direction with more rhythmic music. Goldfrapp chose to record in a studio in a Bohemian area of Bath, England because they needed somewhere to put their equipment and start working. The band began working on the album in January 2002 with a list of songs they wanted to try to record, such as a disco song with only string instruments. The studio's walls were covered in neon lights and Alison Goldfrapp used them to write down her song ideas. They recorded early demos and worked on pre-production using a Yamaha 02R digital mixing console. Goldfrapp held jam sessions with Mark Linkous and Adrian Utley and, after they built momentum writing the album, decided not to move to another studio.
The album cover is a collage made by Mat Maitland of photographs taken by Polly Borland featuring Alison Goldfrapp with two wolves. Artwork in the liner notes also has a wolf motif, including women with wolf heads. Goldfrapp explained that the wolves are a representation of might and mysticism and that she was "interested in the idea of metamorphosis and humans wanting to be like animals and animals wanting to be like humans."
After touring in support of Felt Mountain, Alison Goldfrapp stated that she felt performing slow torch songs "really claustrophobic". During their jam sessions, improvisation became a major part of the group's approach to recording Black Cherry. The album focuses more heavily on dance music and glam rock-inspired synthesisers than its predecessor, and is influenced by Spanish disco group Baccara and Swedish techno artist Håkan Lidbo. Goldfrapp commented that the album differs from Felt Mountain because the band "wanted to put more kind of 'oomph' in it." She stated that the lyrics are "a lot more direct and…less ambiguous." The songs on Black Cherry are more forthright in describing sexuality than those on Felt Mountain.
Black Cherry received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 22 reviews, which indicates "generally [favourable] reviews".Alexis Petridis of The Guardian called it "a laudable, challenging and immensely enjoyable album." However, Michael Idov referred to Goldfrapp as "ambulance chasers" in his review for Pitchfork Media, criticising the band's switch to electro music, while describing Black Cherry as "a soundtrack to excruciatingly banal seduction".Rolling Stone's Pat Blashill disagreed, arguing that "[t]ons of bands imitate the sounds of the early Eighties, but Goldfrapp use New Wave as a way to evoke a long history of shiny Euro-lounge music." In a review for Blender magazine, Dorian Lynskey wrote that on Black Cherry, "Goldfrapp sound right at home." Heather Phares of Allmusic commended Goldfrapp for their "artistic risk-taking", but noted that the album "sounds unbalanced, swinging between delicate, deceptively icy ballads and heavier, dance-inspired numbers without finding much of a happy medium between them." Andy Hermann of PopMatters viewed Black Cherry as "a weird, edgy album, the work of two doggedly maverick talents chasing their muses wherever they take them". Wes May of About.com called it a "rare electronica album of warmth and depth" and wrote that it was "the ultimate chillout pleasure".
PopMatters included the album on its list of the Top 50 Albums of 2003, ranking it at number forty-six. It was listed at number twenty-three on Drowned in Sound's list of the Top 75 Albums of 2003.Black Cherry earned Goldfrapp a nomination for Best British Dance Act at the 2004 BRIT Awards, but they lost to Basement Jaxx.
Black Cherry débuted on the UK Albums Chart on 10 May 2003 at number nineteen. The album remained on the chart for twenty-six weeks and had sold 256,703 copies as of August 2005. Later that month, on 26 August 2005, Black Cherry was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry, denoting shipments in excess of 300,000 copies within the UK. The album reached the top thirty in Germany, Ireland, Norway and Portugal, and the top fifty in Belgium, France and Switzerland.Black Cherry became Goldfrapp's first album to chart in the United States, reaching number four on the Top Electronic Albums chart and number twenty-seven on the Top Independent Albums chart. The album has sold 52,000 copies in the US as of August 2006.