#8. Goldfrapp – Head First
Head First is yet another addictive album from Goldfrapp. Their string of records is getting pretty impressive! I find that when I listen to them, I end up listening to them a ton. And sometimes when I do that with other artists, by the time I’m done, I’m thinking, “that’s enough, I’m sick of this artist now.” But with Goldfrapp, I get hooked, and keep wanting to listen to more. Head First is no exception!
While their last album, Seventh Tree, was pretty chill, and showed off the sometimes-strange creativity of their songs, Head First leans back to Black Cherry or Supernature. It is energetic and bubbly, but with their occasional slight touches of darkness or menace. That’s not to say they are repeating themselves. Most press about Head First notes the heavy ’80s influence of the album, mainly in the sound of the keyboards/synthesizers. That is true, but misses some of the subtlety of what they are doing. Jazzercising to it would hardly be out of place, though, that’s for sure.
On “Dreaming,” for example, all the sounds and layers of synthesizers are there to enhance the chorus. Everything is there for that moment: “I, I am only dreaming…” Similarly, “Alive” hangs there, revving up, until the chorus soars in, “feeling alive again!” This is what Goldfrapp does in all their best songs of the past (from “Strict Machine” to “Oh La La” to name two), dropping razor sharp choruses into a relentless groove. They continue to do that on Head First, continue to do that better than anyone.
One new angle on Head First is that Alison Goldfrapp is singing fairly straightforward love songs. In the past, she used a lot of sexy innuendo and surreal language; here, she is using her seductive voice to sing of clearer and more immediate feelings. For instance, on “Shiny And Warm,” she is anxious: “shiny and warm / head in a storm / I’m driving home to you.” She sounds pretty exhilarated, and it’s pretty clear what will happen when she gets home (“you’ll play with my cheek / whisper something in the dawn”). She recognizes sometimes that the feelings might be a dream or temporary. On the title track, she sings “I am your visitor / I’m on the other side of your world.” She’ll deal with that later, but for now she’s “head first in love.” This immediacy certainly makes Head First one of the more romantic albums of 2010.