Goldfrapp
Head First


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
March 19th, 2010 | 41 replies | 10,091 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The ninth circle of hell for those who hate John Hughes movies.

Seventh Tree, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s fourth album, was a bit of a detour from the glossy, ‘80s pop sheen of their last couple of records, drawing more from Brian Eno-inspired soundscapes, nature, and pagan worship than your typical electro-diva effort. Predictably, it also sold less than Goldfrapp’s previous work, so it should come as little surprise that their fifth album returns unabashedly to the roots of Goldfrapp’s [financial] success. I could say that Head First combines the up-tempo, synth-heavy electronic dance of Supernature and Black Cherry with some of the ambient, folkier sounds of their superb debut and Seventh Tree, but that sort of mixture is more often the exception rather than the rule. No, Head First rather brazenly throws everything to the wind and kneels to its glam-pop influences without an ounce of shame.

Nevertheless, this is catchy as hell. Gregory has always shined brightest when the beats bumping behind Goldfrapp’s airy vocals are pulsating, oscillating glimmers of sound, usually making liberal use of bass and space-age synthesizers. One listen to “Believer” will have that chorus stuck in your head for days, and while jams like “Alive” and “I Wanna Life” are so disco, so shiny and slick that it almost feels wrong to listen to them without dusting off a polyester pantsuit and platform shoes, there’s something refreshing and exhilarating about such straightforward retro pop. There are plenty of synthesizers and effects, but it enhances rather than obscures Goldfrapp’s inviting voice, and many of the hooks here, particularly the dark, glitchy rhythm of “Shiny and Warm,” blow away most current Top 40 material.

That’s hardly an excuse, however, for just how dated some of the sounds come off. Lead single “Rocket” is the perfect example: just the kind of smart, toe-tapping songwriting one has come to expect from Goldfrapp and Gregory, but trapped under the weight of synths that sound as if they came straight off the rack at your local Sam Ash, circa 1984. Perhaps that was the sound Goldfrapp was going for, but on too many songs here the effect comes off as cheap, dated, and more than a little off-putting. It also causes much of Head First to bleed together, resulting in something like the ninth circle of hell for those who hate John Hughes movies.

Luckily, the duo mixes it up enough as the record winds down to prevent any sugar overdose. There’s a Seventh Tree throwback on the haunting, vaguely threatening “Hunt,” and the aforementioned “Shiny and Warm” tops most of the earlier, more immediately accessible dance tunes. Closer “Voicething,” meanwhile, is such a 180-degree shift in sound and mood that it’s as if Goldfrapp had just thrown her hands up in the studio and said, “Well, *** it, I like everything we did on Felt Mountain better.” It’s surprising how relaxing and revitalizing the continued layering of Goldfrapp’s many soft whispers and murmurs can sound on top of the record’s most restrained beats, and it’s a near revelation in just how versatile Goldfrapp can be after the nonstop party that precedes it. Head First is nothing if not a party album, especially if said party has a retro theme, and on that count Goldfrapp have outdone themselves once again. But where Seventh Tree was inconsistent, Head First suffers from a lack of much of any substance, and even the occasional toss into left field is notable only for its extrinsic nature. Then again, who ever said great disco needed substance?



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user ratings (60)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010



9988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

stream: http://www.goldfrapp.com/msgboard/showthread.php?p=542726

now time to get shittyyyyyyy

AggravatedYeti
March 19th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

what a terrible cover.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010



9988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so fucking 80s

AggravatedYeti
March 19th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

its like they're not even trying.
I dont want to bother with this now.

but I still will. damn you goldfrapp.

The ninth circle of hell for those who hate John Hughes movies.

I lol'ed hard btw.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010



9988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's not like its a bad record, it's actually quite enjoyable and some of the songs here really good. it's just, you know, nothing
amazing

whiskey on the other hand

EVedder27
March 19th 2010



6088 Comments


get some of that tullamore dew

deliciousness

BSX
March 20th 2010



1630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Then again, who ever said great disco needed substance?

Listen to Grace Jones' Hurricane

AggravatedYeti
March 20th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

whiskey on the other hand

you're a good man klapper.


Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2010



30294 Comments


Goldfrapp normally only holds my attention when i'm on the sauce. Never the less I will check out the stream. Stellar review as always klapper

Digging: L'Orange - The Orchid Days

Brokenjewel
March 20th 2010



1247 Comments


Great review, dude.

MassiveAttack
March 20th 2010



2684 Comments


lol Rudy that summary is great.

STOP SHOUTING!
March 20th 2010



628 Comments


seventh tree wasn't that good, this sounds better.

Kiran
Emeritus
March 20th 2010



5992 Comments


i seriously thought about getting this until i saw the cover

too much to handle

AggravatedYeti
March 20th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this honestly just made me go back to 'Felt Mountain'...

jeremologyy
March 20th 2010



259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

felt mountain really is the best thing they've ever done.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2010



9988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

easily^

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2010



17114 Comments


the last m83 album is about as 80's as i can get and even then it's only on rare occasions... gonna pass.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

DiceMan
March 22nd 2010



7068 Comments


The only reason I've ever heard of Goldfrapp was from some weirdass movie called Hard Candy with Ellen Page.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2010



9988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

that movie was fucked up

Ponton
Emeritus
March 22nd 2010



5775 Comments


awesome, rudy. You rule the front page once more.

great review

Digging: Mimicking Birds - Mimicking Birds



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