With four LP’s and a substantial domination of electronic pop music under their belt, Goldfrapp release fifth studio album Head First. They seem however, to be returning to a fiercely competitive environment. After the endless wave of retro-tinged artists that have been established recently, do Goldfrapp still have the energy needed to stand out amongst the new blood? Quite possibly not, as Head First seems to lack the bite needed to keep the pretenders off Alison Goldfrapp’s electro-pop throne.
This album sits in surprising contrast to their 4th album Seventh Tree, which seemed to nod more to the sixties for inspiration.Head First, however, looks to 70s and 80s pop for inspiration. At times this influence seems a bit too much, concealing the haunting ambience that, until now, has always been present in their music. Instead opting for an album full of contagious vocal hooks, infectious choruses and tastefully crafted cheese, Goldfrapp’s latest album demonstrates a remarkable change in tone, even if the repetition of it’s many poppy hooks occasionally verges on the irritating.
Despite its negatives, this album also contains a multitude of positives; not only in its uplifting style but in front women Alison Goldfrapp’s deliciously breathy, dream-like vocals. This is all familiar territory though, in fact, many of the songs contain the firm dance beats and catchy synth riffs that typified early Goldfrapp. In Head First, Alison seem intent on taking on the competition by revisiting her roots; crafting music of a similar hue to the sounds that catapulted her to fame.
Head First contains slick vocals and smooth production, particularly on tracks like ‘Shiny and Warm.’ Some songs though, are a little too reminiscent of 80’s pop acts like Van Halen. Tracks like ‘Rocket’, the title track ‘Head First’ and ‘I Wanna Life’ suffer under these strains of awkward retro cheese. Overall however, Head First makes for easy listening. Goldfrapp’s latest opus is a well polished pop album; easy on the ears and despite its downfalls, a quite enjoyable release. There’s nothing offered here that verges on being reproachable, yet there’s nothing there to really thrive upon either. What Goldfrapp have created is a ‘pleasant’ album; nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately for Goldfrapp, given that the music industry is currently enjoying a fruitful climate of producing exciting, fresh new artists continuously, I doubt this album will be winning any awards any time soon.