Goldfrapp - Head First (Mute)

Krystina Nellis | Monday, 12 April 2010

Goldfrapp - Head First (Mute)

It's already been widely discussed that Goldfrapp have channelled Van Halen's 'Jump' for that 'Rocket' riff. For a band who once said they "celebrated when the eighties were over," their new album is practically drowning in irony for this fact alone.

It's a theme that continues through Head First, especially with the following tracks 'Believer' and 'Alive', but don't let that put you off. Unlike practically everyone else who's visited the eighties for inspiration recently, Goldfrapp's latest effort isn't falling over itself to make sure you get the Shoreditch-influenced retro theme. A carry-over from last album Seventh Tree, possibly, and the lesson learned that more doesn't always mean more.

The album definitely wears its references on its sleeve. Moving away from the eighties, the intro to 'Hunt' sounds like it's going to be the illegitimate half-sister of Miike Snow's 'Animal' before segueing into Bjork on one of her more esoteric days: a rare, more introspective note contrasting with the generally upbeat feel of the album.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about Head First is that it more often than not goes for sparseness, where others would go for overload. Never is this more apparent than in closing track 'Voicething'; admittedly, the closing percussive refrain does sound a bit like something a GCSE drama teacher would have you do: "warm up the diaphragm". But the end result draws the listener in with more intrigue than 80s cheese would suggest.

The album's not as instantly attention-grabbing as Goldfrapp's earlier efforts, and aside from 'Rocket' there's no real immediate stand-out. It is that dreaded musical contraption: a 'grower'. But that's a result of Head First being consistently good, rather than intermittently brilliant with a load of filler. There isn't a duff track here, and the album as a whole is never less than beguiling.

Rating: 3/5

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