Goldfrapp

Head First

Mute

Mar 22, 2010 Issue #30 - Winter 2010 - Vampire Weekend Bookmark and Share


Over the past ten years and four releases, Goldfrapp has set the electro-pop bar high, gliding between dreamy soundscapes (Felt Mountain, Seventh Tree) and dance (Black Cherry, Supernature). Now on their fifth album Head First, the duo takes on Italo disco, going by the numbers to create uncharacteristically mixed results.

On paper, the math checks out. Diva + Disco = Awesome. On tape though, the formula is off by the smallest percentage point. Singer Alison Goldfrapp's soaring voice-while markedly stronger than the average disposable Italo star-floats and swoops over producer/musician Will Gregory's beat-heavy production. However, the fire in the equation is missing-replaced it seems, with the band's ability to luck into a catchy moment. Perhaps they forgot to factor in the fine line between dated and retro, and as a result they've managed to trample all over it.

The good news is, the variables are all in place. The bad news is, they're rarely in the same place at the same time. Goldfrapp's voice twists sinuously through the frenetic beats of "Dreaming." "Voicething" is filled with gauzy atmospheric bliss. While these highlights only flirt with freshness, at least they're executed with the effortless grace we've come to expect.

Maybe if they weren't so busy searching for checks and balances, we would have gotten a more cohesive outing... or at least a less disposable one. Single "Rocket" couples a no-holds-barred party-starting innuendo of "I've got a rocket...ooohhh...you're gonna ride it" with some of the chunkiest, odd-tempo synths this side of 1989. The titular track is a sweetly introspective, mid-tempo ballad peppered with cheesy sound effects. On "Alive" Goldfrapp's voice is looped into an ethereal choir-hot on the heels of announcing her jeans are "a little tight." The Goddess has descended and is now giving diet advice? It doesn't take a mathematician to recognize something should have been subtracted. (www.goldfrapp.com)

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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