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head first

March 19, 2010

got a hold of the upcoming Goldfrapp album last week and am sad to say I’m far from being enamored of this project. As an ardent fan, I think it’s equally important to be supportive and critical of an artist’s work, and it’s clear this album is not as fully conceptualized as their previous efforts. For starters, each previous album was symbolized by an animal: the deer for “Felt Mountain,” the wolf for “Black Cherry,” peacock for “Supernature,” and owl for “Seventh Tree.” There is no such symbol for “Head First.” Where Alison once sang about such broad, abstract subjects as utopianism and “sunshine meadow, oceans rainbow,” the lyrics this time around seem to be more direct and  literal, bordering the sentimental. This change in tone and focus is all the more jarring in the context of their last album “Seventh Tree,” which I found to be an extraordinary culmination of vision, skill, and execution – a luminously warm and mystical sound made complete with their signature dash of ethereality (via string orchestra). This new collection, with the exception of a few songs (“Alive,” “Believer,” “Head First,” and maybe “Rocket”) is rather cold-sounding, lacking the vigor (and strings!!) of works past. “Voicething,” the song which held the most promise for ethereal Goldfrapp, is a layered vocal loop so repetitive and wandering that it trails behind comparable stylings by Frou Frou/Imogen Heap in intricacy and climax. In any case, Goldfrapp at their worst (not implying this is the case) are still a potent force. “Alive” is an exuberant, pulsing ode to the moment at present, “Head First” is an unabashedly nostalgic ballad dripping with tenderness, and “Believer” gleams with synthesizers and a soaring chorus. Here are two standouts from the album.

Alive

Head First

snapshot of Alison at Radio City Music Hall, 2008

photo from bigactive.com

Cologne Cerrone Houdini (Seventh Tree era)

Additionally, I received Ferraby Lionheart’s latest LP “Jack of Hearts” in the mail but have yet to give it a full listen. Though there is no short supply of guitar-strumming singer-songwriters, Ferraby has carved a unique sound more reminiscent of Johnny Cash (with hints of Buddy Holly and Woody Guthrie, particularly on this album) than, say, Jack Johnson. Being recorded in Nashville, there is a distinctly country flourish to some of the songs, lent by electric guitars and twangy riffs. Here, his subject matter hasn’t changed much, and though the sound is decidedly less whimsical, it’s still a rousing ride. 

photo from rcrdlbl.com

Dear Corinne

Harry and Bess

Drag Me ‘Round

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One Comment leave one →
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