Now a decade into their career, the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have been unashamedly pilfering from the vaults since their second album, 2003’s ‘Black Cherry’ and with largely inventive results. Much of this exercise has revolved around 1980’s themes, in particular synth pop. ‘Head First’ revisits this genre again only this time in its most disposable form.
‘Rocket’ opens proceedings with the line “I got a rocket, you’re going on it” and a shiny upbeat chorus to match. ‘Believer’ and ‘Alive’ follow in quick succession; both fine but perhaps best suited to keep-fit routines than home listening. Goldfrapp always seemed to play their music with a knowing wink but as each moment ticks by you’re left waiting and waiting for the time they switch from disposable pop to something more substantial and introspective.
That moment does eventually arrive courtesy of the fifth track, ‘Head First’; the backing is still distinctly cheesy but Goldfrapp herself stirs enough emotion and Gregory saves some memorable key changes for the song. The recovery is maintained for the breathy ‘Hunt’ but comes to a halt thanks to ‘Shiny And Warm’, a noticeably darker track but lightweight in its execution. The album ends disappointingly too, with a pointless ambient experiment that is totally forgettable.
There’s a sense that this music could have featured on films as ‘Flashdance’ and ‘Footloose’; the ideal accompaniment to equally insubstantial cinema history. Furthermore, if it’s 80’s soundtrack fare you’re after, Ladyhawke does it far better.