Having leapt feet-first on 2008's Seventh Tree into the spooky wyrd-folk world then being opened up by the likes of Bat For Lashes, Goldfrapp now suddenly effect a complete volte-face on Head First, heading back to the electronic pop of their three previous releases.
It's a curious, circuitous trajectory which gives the impression that Goldfrapp are in the invidious position of playing catch-up to all the Gagas, LaRouxs and Little Boots upon whom they must surely have been a major influence. A song like "Believer", with its childlike lyric ("A cupid on the go, with your arrow and your bow, yeah yeah", etc) set to a basic Eighties' synth riff, is exactly in step with retro-electropop fashion. The retro influences too often tread on tainted ground, however: the synth-stabs of "Rocket" are fatally reminiscent of Van Halen's "Jump", while the Elton-esque piano chords of "Alive" and Abba-style melodic structure of the title-track recall the indulgent, bogus innocence of 1970s AOR pop excess with Spandex-tight accuracy. The album's just about redeemed in its later stages by the Suicide-influenced motorik pulse driving "Shiny And Warm", which ably evokes the security and speed of fast-car travel, and by the Steve Reich-ian vocal sussurus pulsing mesmerically through the closing "Voicething", but overall this seems a step backwards.
Download this Shiny And Warm; Voicething; Believer