I’ve been reading some rather negative press about Goldfrapp following the release of their fifth LP Headfirst. Mediocre reviews, Spanish TV lip-synching scandals, they’ve had their share of bad press this week.
I’m not sure it’s quite fair either. Considering Alison’s undeniably incredible voice, I have no idea why she would be lip-synching. And in relation to the new LP, it’s definitely very different to their last release. But while Seventh Tree had charm and a few incredibly beautiful songs (Clowns and A&E are some of the most moving songs I own), it was pretty much widely regarded as being largely boring, something I’d have to agree with.
Head First is much more reminiscent of their second LP, Black Cherry. Much more upbeat, with the same neon-drenched feel, Head First returns to the synth-pop sound of their second and third albums, this time with a distinctly 80’s edge. At times it reminds me of Moloko, at others of Serge Santiago. But it is really very distinctly Goldfrapp. There may be a couple of duds (I Wanna Life hasn’t made a good impression, and the title track sounds awfully like Abba), but at its best Head First is Goldfrapp on top form, building on their previous work to produce a fun, energetic album. It may be a little too pop at times (I’m not going to lie, I Wanna Life sounds more like something Cyndi Lauper would turn out than I can deal with), but this is balanced by deeper tracks, such as Dreaming, or the Seventh Tree-esque Voicething. And at times the poppier sound hits the nail right on the head, Rocket has to be one of the catchiest tracks the duo have produced.
The song above, Believer, is kind of an all-rounder. It has an definite pop feel, but is is still undeniably Goldfrapp. Different features of the song hark back to all of their previous work. The vocals are at times ethereal, such as something off Felt Mountain or Seventh Tree. The synths have the deep, neon-infused feel of Black Cherry. And the chorus is as catchy as anything you’d find on Supernature. But it still sounds fresh and different, the features all combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
However, I would agree with one of the things most of the critics have said about the album. As Kitty Empire from The Observer stated, “Having pre-empted the wave of womanly electro, they now appear to be behind rather than ahead of the curve”. Although this new album is definitely catchy and mostly pretty good, it doesn’t have the same innovative spark that a lot of their previous work did.
But I really like the album art, so that’s okay.