On its 2008 album Seventh Tree, British duo Goldfrapp ditched its trademark electro-glam-pop for an organic &-&- if not whimsical &-&- folk-inspired sound. It was an interesting change of pace, but made for dreary listening from a band that helmed such stompers as “Ooh La La” and “Strict Machine.” Crying at the disco, indeed!
Well, dust off those platforms and power up the glitter ball, because classic Goldfrapp is once again upon us. On its fifth studio album, Head First, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory find themselves in the best spirits they have ever captured on record. Head First is an unapologetically pop record. With chirpy synths and hopeful lyrics, it’s like the brooding Goldfrapp of yesteryear popped a tab of ecstasy and set-up shop in Studio 54.
The album kicks off with the kitschy and infectious lead single, “Rocket,” on which Alison teases, “I gotta rocket / you’re going on it / you’re never coming back,” amidst a chorus of “oh-oh-ohs” for good measure.
Tracks like “Believer” continue with the hi-NRG 80s sound &-&- although the sound is perhaps executed best on album highlight “Alive,” which was co-produced with electronic master, Richard X. With a riff reminiscent of “Blinded By The Light” (and a lyrical reference to the song itself), Alison boasts that she’s “feeling alive again” on a song that sounds like it could accompany a scene of Falkor swooping over Fantasia in The NeverEnding Story.
The album teeters more toward camp than any other Goldfrapp record, but the band keeps itself in check to ensure the album is just as much indie-charm as it is Labyrinth. Songs like the slower, breathy “Hunt” is reminiscent of a darker track from the band’s sophomore album Black Cherry, while “Shiny and Warm” sounds like an updated version of “Satin Chic” from 2005’s Supernature.
Head First might only be taking listeners to third base, but with the band returning to their signature sound, it might as well be a home run.
Head First is released Tuesday on Mute Records.