After the diversion into Cocteau Twins ethereality for Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp returns to
reclaim her spot in the dance clubs with Head
First (Mute). The fifth album from the titular Alison Goldfrapp, plus longtime
collaborator Will Gregory, falls into the tradition of second and third
records, 2003’s Black Cherry and
2005’s Supernature, rather than the
eerie trip hop of the first, Felt
Mountain (2000), or 2008’s lovely pastoral Seventh Tree. It’s back to club anthems, shiny choruses, and slick
synths – subtlety and depth be damned.
Goldfrapp gives good singles, and “Rocket,” “Believer” and
“Alive” will end up on the playlists of lovers of well-crafted dance-pop
(although one suspects that many Goldfrapp fans appreciate listening to
dance-pop more than dancing to it). Not coincidentally, those three tracks open
Head First, and its
hit-me-with-your-best-shot sequencing: the rest of the album turns more subdued
and indirect (and occasionally diffuse), as in the slinky strut of “Shiny and
Warm” or the slow-burn abstraction of “Voicething” (the grabby chorus of “I
Wanna Life” is the late-album exception).
Between the singer’s crystalline vocals and Gregory’s well-orchestrated
synths, Goldfrapp – the duo – is an ersatz Eurythmics for the not-so-new
millennium. That’s fine, but on Head
First the not insubstantial pleasures are ephemeral ones.
Standout Tracks: “Rocket,” “Alive” STEVE KLINGE