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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aural Candy
Look, if you don't have a sense of humor or any twinges of nostalgia for the early '80s, avoid this album like the plague. It is not for you. But if you don't have an enormous stick up your rump, you're going to get a big kick out of Head First. Goldfrapp manage to successfully mine very-early '80s synth pop for what's probably the most listenable album of their...
Published on April 4, 2010 by sunspot42x

versus
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shiny and warm
I've given up on trying to figure out what signature sound Goldfrapp is going to embrace next -- they've gone for quirky electronica, robotic club dance, and delicate airy pop. So what do they do in "Head First"? Well, they've drifted back into dance territory, except that this brand of electronica is saturated in retro beats and swooshes.

The sound of a...
Published on March 23, 2010 by E. A Solinas


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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aural Candy, April 4, 2010
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Look, if you don't have a sense of humor or any twinges of nostalgia for the early '80s, avoid this album like the plague. It is not for you. But if you don't have an enormous stick up your rump, you're going to get a big kick out of Head First. Goldfrapp manage to successfully mine very-early '80s synth pop for what's probably the most listenable album of their career.

Now, one could certainly argue that we had enough of Abba, and ELO, and Kim Carnes, and Olivia Newton-John the first time around. But I have to admit that every single track on this record plasters a huge goofy grin on my face, as Goldfrapp mines -- in an entirely non-ironic way, I might add -- an astounding array of early-'80s pop conventions to produce an entirely charming (and infinitely catchy) work. And it's that combination of technical achievement and solid pop songcraft that makes Head First such an intense sugar rush.

Every track is good, but the lead single "Rocket" has to be one of the finest pop tunes anybody has crafted in ages, all Reagan-era double entendres wrapped around one hot hook after another. "Alive" is the other poppy highlight, with a glittering synth fill that could transport the listener straight to Xanadu. I had to check the mirror to make sure a Member's Only jacket hadn't materialized on my back. The compelling "Believer" strongly recalls the Kim Carnes single "Voyeur" (remember when she was at the pop vanguard?), while the title track plays like some long lost Abba hit. And of course who could forget the deliciously naughty "Shiny And Warm", or the scrumptious, Motels-esque "I Wanna Life"?

The album closes with the lovely, experimental "Voicething", but truth be told it's less impressive than the pop tracks that it follows. I've never heard anybody *successfully* recreate the essence of an era the way Goldfrapp have here on Head First. It's ultimately a loving tribute to the end of the great era of radio-driven pop music.

That market would soon fragment, thanks both to technology (the Walkman, the CD), and the rise of polarizing genres (rap, metal), all of which was supposedly an improvement according to music critics. Thirty years later, listening to Head First, I'm afraid I'd have to question that conclusion. Head First may be sugary enough to rot every tooth in your head, but a pure-candy diet has to be healthier than choking on the kind of nihilistic (or materialistic) crap that largely took its place over the past 20 years. Compared to that, Head First's sweet sounds of 1981 seem shockingly liberated, forward-looking and free. I'm not quite sure how they did it, but Goldfrapp have somehow made their trip back to 1981 the most subversive thing I've heard in a long, long time.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing!, June 14, 2010
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
I cant stop listening to this cd. I dont know what they did, but the sound quality of this cd is so amazing. it has to be played really loud to enjoy the crisp sound texture. My favorite track on there is I Wanna Life. I cant stop listening to that track. Believer is my second favorite. I feel like each cd Goldfrapp puts out, they get better and better. Its great to see a band like this grow forward and not sound like what is already out there.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Stellar Album, May 10, 2010
By 
Rhys Crow (Cornelius, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Head First [Vinyl] (Vinyl)
Every work they put out is different from the last and this one is another another reason I love them. 'Rocket' is a modern type of 80's synth pop. I love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Love 80s Music..., May 30, 2011
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This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
This is definitely a great album to enjoy if you are an 80s fan. I bought this last year after hearing "Rocket". I wasn't too excited about it the first time I played it. None of the songs besides Rocket stood out or were memorable; they seemed to blend together. I was a little disappointed, but I didn't hate it. I came back to it a couple times and started to become familiar with the songs. I liked it. The songs have a soft, dreamy sound, with a bit of an edge. It's somewhat fluffy pop in the clouds, but not bubblegum.

Yep, it is inspired by music styles of the late 70s and early 80s. It sounds like it could've been released in 1982. To me that is a good thing. It even looks 80s...from Alison and Will's heads amongst pastel-colored clouds to her pink jumpsuit, the brief track listing, and retro-style font on the back cover. I bought a vinyl copy too, and it's very similar to holding an 80s record, if you like that sort of thing.

If you hate 80s music, you might not dig this too much. I love it. Most of the songs are happy. They make me feel good while listening to them. It can't be written off as mindless pop, especially when compared to mainstream pop of the past 15 years. This isn't the Spice Girls or Britney.

Rocket-Catchy synth pop. The lyrics describe a relationship ending, a significant other cheating, and wanting to send them away on a rocket. "You're never coming back". Funny.

Believer-Sometimes I don't mind hearing it, other times I skip it. There is a sound about it that reminds me of cheesy 80s dance films, like Breakin' and Stayin' Alive. I could just see Finola Hughes and John Travolta dancing to this. That's a good thing, by the way. The video is fun.

Alive-This song is upbeat. "I'm feeling alive again, alive again"---I think music is alive again for 80s fans after years of mostly boring rap, urban pop, emo, and acoustic music.

Dreaming-One of my two favorites on the album. The song has a percolating beat, lush synths, and odd dream-like lyrics. Alison's voice soars at times. The synth music is gorgeous. This one reminds me of 1984/85.

Head First-one of my favorites when the album started to grow on me. It has interesting layers. The instrumental version is also really good. I was hoping that would be released on a cd single.

Hunt-slower and a little darker than the rest. This and the next song are the most "Goldfrapp" sounding-like their previous work. It's really good.

Shiny and Warm-this one sounds a little more like 70s or early 80s roller disco while sounding more modern than Believer. It stands out among the rest in first listens of the album. After repeated plays, it's actually become my least favorite on the album along with Voicething.

I Wanna Life-This is my other favorite on the album. It sounds like a well-crafted 80s song with a slow start, building up to a big catchy chorus, with hope in the lyrics. "I found a diamond that shines brightly". The ending is great, with gorgeous synths. I'd love to hear an extended mix that has an even longer ending. The instrumental version is great.

Voicething-A mix of music and voice samples with no words, very different from the rest of the album. The first time I played it, I thought it sounded like a bunch of noise; kind of annoying and hard to listen to some parts of it, but it was interesting. It's grown on me. It's kind of weird and "out-there". Experimental, I guess.

The only thing that would've made the album better would be if it included an extra track, like "We Radiate". But they wanted it to be 9 songs. Still, it became one of my favorite albums and I still listen to it more than a year later. It also made me take out my other Goldfrapp music and give it another listen. I already had some of their other albums and singles, but never got into them beyond casual listening. This album changed that for me. I would rank the albums with this as my favorite followed by Supernature, Seventh Tree, Black Cherry and Felt Mountain.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shiny and warm, March 23, 2010
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
I've given up on trying to figure out what signature sound Goldfrapp is going to embrace next -- they've gone for quirky electronica, robotic club dance, and delicate airy pop. So what do they do in "Head First"? Well, they've drifted back into dance territory, except that this brand of electronica is saturated in retro beats and swooshes.

The sound of a blast-off heralds "Rocket," a bouncy synthpop tune full of random tinkles and squidgy keyboard melodies. "Ooh oh oh, I got a rocket/oh oh oh, you're going on it/oh oh oh, you're never comin' back!" Goldfrapp sings gleefully in the middle of the song.

Things get a bit more downtempo in "Believer," in which the melody flows swiftly around the stacatto beats. And after that, we get a steady stream of bouncy, colorful synthpop that reeks of the 80s -- the icy vocal core of "Alive's" flittery pop anthem, the hard dancy flavor of "Dreaming," the delicate nighttime prettiness of the titular track.

The one thing I really, REALLY couldn't stomach: "I Wanna Life," a perky pop song that sounds like it was cribbed from a bad eighties musical. But there are also some interesting inclusions that are hard to classify -- they introduce a twisting electronic soundscapes of "Hunt," where Alison's vocals play second fiddle to the music. And the final song "Voicething" lives up to its title, dispensing with typical vocals, and instead embracing a ghostly eerie exploration of sound.

"Head First" is definitely not Goldfrapp's best work -- it's fluffy, radio-friendly pop music that only occasionally takes a twist into the unknown. In fact, it's kind of weird to have a band that has done so much cutting-edge music go back to eighties synthpop -- it's completely soaked in that 80s vibe (much like M83's "Saturdays = Youth"), and it left me wondering, "... is that it? They don't have anything new here? It's so... predictable."

For the record: the music is not bad, just predictable and relatively lightweight (compared to the brilliant "Black Cherry," "Felt Mountain" or "Seventh Tree"). Heated dance beats, shimmering layers, and undulating swathes of synth that buzzes, tinkles and whooshes like a spacebound rocket. And they dabble in some darker, more experimental songs in the second half, especially in "Voicething" -- it's a musical synth journey that drifts from one plateau to the next.

Alison Goldfrapp's beautifully chilly voice adds a distinctive sound to the album -- and she does some wonderfully weird stuff, like an entire song filled with inarticulate noises. No words at all. And the lyrics are sometimes even more vivid than the music: "Look at the trees in the dark/bending like a bony finger/Cry for the face on a little moon by the tree..."

"Head First" is a sleek, warm synthpop album that reeks of nostalgia, but that nostalgia also bogs it down -- it lacks the magical brilliance of Goldfrapp's prior works.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like Supernature, definitely give it a listen!, April 16, 2010
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This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
I bought this album last week immediately upon seeing it on Amazon; read no reviews, comments, etc... I'm Goldfrapp fan and it was a new album, click-buy - simple as that. And I'm so glad I did; I love it!

As with many reviews here (I have read a few now out of curiosity) the first thing that jumped out was how much of an "80s" sound it has, which is OK with me. Still modern electro but with a blatant throwback to some 80's pop. I've always been more into Black Cherry and Supernature than Felt Mountain and Seventh Tree (what a surprise with that one..), so the sound of this album was definitely more of what I hoping for. Yeah, it's a little pop'y, but not terribly. The darker tracks "Dreaming" and "Hunt" are fantastic though...

Bottom line, it was absolutely worth buying and I would do it again without a blink!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldfrapp always amazes, January 21, 2011
By 
Not my favorite Goldfrapp album, but still an excellent disc. I understand why some people think it's not their best work, but it captures exactly the sound and style they intended it to. If you want electro-glam, 80s style, this is the disc to have. Lots of other groups trying this sound right now, but it usually comes off as forced. I think, for whatever reason, it seems a natural fit to Goldfrapp's musical sensibilities, and vocal stylings. Favorite tracks are Believer, Head First and Voicething.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Track-by-Track Review, January 28, 2012
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
**Originally posted on "#1 Hits From Another Planet" - 3/19/10**

I love that all these artists are finally rediscovering what I call the "Van Halen synth." Goldfrapp change directions pretty drastically between albums and this is my favorite iteration yet. I only wish every song adhered to the upbeat synthpop of first single Rocket.

1. Rocket - One of their best singles to date, this puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. From the bubbling synths to the simple, cheeky chorus, it's a reinvention and kicks the album off in the best possible way. 10/10

2. Believer - A little more subdued than the last track, this is still a totally impressive pastiche of 80's synthpop. It feels more like some of their older stuff. 9/10

3. Alive - My favorite track on the album. It's a mix of ELO, Scissor Sisters and every cheesy 80's musical out there. It's one of the only tracks to feature guitar prominently and feels meatier for it. Plus, the sparkling sound effects after the chorus are pretty ballsy. 10/10

4. Dreaming - Another very 80's sounding song. It's sort of a midtempo verging on uptempo with a fantastic moody melody. There's a stunning instrumental outro as well. 9/10

5. Head First - This feels very Abba in some parts. It's the first track resembling a ballad and manages to be both dreamlike and folksy at the same time. There are some gorgeous, sweeping synths throughout. 9/10

6. Hunt - This one, which would be a standout on other Goldfrapp albums, suffers because it doesn't fit tonally with the rest of the tracks. It's not a bad song, for sure, but changes the energy of the album. 8/10

7. Shiny And Warm - More uptempo, but it lacks a hook that's as strong as the other tracks. It feels more like a leftover from a few years ago than a new track. Again, it clashes with the rest of the album. 7/10

8. I Wanna Life - Here we're back to the straight-up 80's sound, which makes me think that this would have fit better towards the beginning of the album. It sticks out like a sore thumb after the previous two tracks. It's a very welcome change. 10/10

9. Voicething - A very pretty sound collage with vocals but no lyrics. It's a beautiful closer to the album, though I can't say that it adds much to the overall package. 8/10

Album Grade: 8.9/10
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too much candy, April 9, 2010
By 
Bertrand Stclair "clearsaint" (new york, new york United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
Goldfrapp have always been derivative, their specialty "retro" -- albeit a look back at a different era or medium with each new incarnation. But no matter how you classify their shtick, there is no doubt that they have always done it superbly.
And no doubt their new effort, Head First, will find a large audience, new or old, that will find it just as superb. It isn't, however.
Their first album, Felt Mountain, was their absolute masterpiece, never to be equaled in terms of craftsmanship, elegance, and overwhelming melancholia. It was a nod to an old, bygone Europe, and one could practically picture Alison Goldfrapp as a happy, blond German Heidi of the hills, who is full of wretched abnegation and sexual frustration on the inside -- a perfect symbol of a dying continent between the wars. Where others have tried to convey that image by referring to Berlin's dens of iniquity, Godlfrapp were much more sophisticated: there was a brass-heavy polka, there were snippets of Jacques Brel, bits from different moments of history. The impression was even stronger in concert, where the atmosphere was largely produced by a violinist in lederhosen and a Tyrolean hat. Ironically, the album became a cult favorite but did not sell all that well.
The follow-up, Black Cherry, caught everyone by surprise: although it still carried several lovely ballads that seemed to come from Felt Mountain, it was primarily a dance effort that harkened to the early seventies and channeled Norman Greenbaum, of all people, along with primitive synthesizer sounds. It sold extremely well, and was a dollar sign that the band could not ignore. Sure enough, their next effort, Supernature, was an all-out glam disco concoction, meticulous in its detail to the genre's conventions and to Alison's disco-diva costumes. It was also just like old disco albums in one other respect: it was actually a bad album from a purely creative viewpoint, but it was immensely enjoyable. It sold in the millions, spawned three single hits, and packed the concert venues across the world.
Seventh Tree was a surprise again, a delightful one. It was a collection of unpretentious and very well written songs that used an overarching acoustic approach, almost folky in places, as if the band (Alison and her synthesizer man, Will Gregory) wanted to assert that simplistic disco aside, they could still produce something memorable and worthy of attention. Not only was the album good musicianship, it allowed Alison to step down from the exhausting podium of disco glamour and be a much simpler character.
In all cases, Goldfrapp had successfully reinvented themselves. With Head First, they take a "retro" look to their own past -- already? Head First is another dance album, harkening back to Supernature, only this time without the mature, sensual diva; instead, we have cheerleader pop. While it should be the privilege of any artist to present his or her work to the world forever, it's a bit cringeworthy when a forty-four year old (per Wikipedia) avatar of Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor decides to be a teenager.
Head First is not exactly bad, it's just wholly insipid. Compositionally and lyrically, it has no discernible merit. Even the enjoyment that Supernature provided is much less here. The album seems hurried, as if for some reason they had to produce a hit single really fast, then threw in all manner of filler and called it an album. The first song, Rocket, is already a major single climbing the charts, and with its infectious chorus, it's no wonder. Soon thereafter, though, the music becomes wallpaper and it's hard to focus on it -- there's nothing there, just cutesy noise, the kind that makes you get off of the sofa and feel an urgency to fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen while listening. It just isn't riveting on its own. A description of each song following Rocket would be superfluous, they are all pretty much the same. There is a sneaking dark impression that if this music followed its logical path, it would land squarely in Lady Gaga's territory, minus the vulgarity. The closer, Voicething, is exactly that: a series of processed vocalizations and isolated sounds made with the voice against the usual synth backdrop, not nearly as experimental as it sounds in this description, and absolutely unmemorable. The fact that the album is mercifully short (under 40 minutes) and ends with this non-song, reinforces the feeling that it was patched together really fast for no particular reason. Oh, and you don't really need to know about the lyrics, do you? With poetic jewels such as "A Cupid on the go, no arrow and no bow, yeah yeah yeah" and "I wanna life, I want it now forever, I wanna life, I wanna know, I wanna life, I wanna be together, I wanna life, I wanna know" -- surely you don't want to tire your mind with such heavy thoughts.
Considering how talented the duo is, I am happy to wait for their next effort. Until then, I can always listen to Felt Mountain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars from a Felt Mountain fan, July 21, 2010
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
Goldfrapp fans are a weird bunch. Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp have experimented so wildly with each album since their first in 2000, that we come from a variety of musical tastes and preferences. Those of us who were lured in by a single off of Black Cherry and loved Supernature's hard-edged electro sound have very different expectations from the people whose first experience was the haunting and epic Felt Mountain and still believe it's their best work.

I'm one of the latter, and while Head First is nothing at all like Felt Mountain, that strange Goldfrapp approach to songcraft that got me in the first place is alive and well here--quite possibly the most since Felt Mountain.

To say Head First is dripping with 80s pop is like saying Felt Mountain has lots of strings. Yup, it does. But there's *so* much more going on here than that superficial observation. If Head First were just a collection of reworkings of Abba songs, it would fall flat, just like Felt Mountain would have fallen flat if it were a straightforward riff on some Howard Shore soundtracks. But these are amazingly crafted songs, catchy, complex, strange, beautifully orchestrated, that reward each new listen with a little more detail revealed.

People who complain that Goldfrapp has yet to settle on a "signature sound" are missing the point. That's just not what Will and Alison do. They're like one of my other favorite (and much more indie) bands, Midlake: They were born to explore, and they'll have found new territory with each album.

One postscript: The beautifully bizarre "Voicething" is an oddity even on this album. It doesn't quite fit with the other tracks, and almost seems to hint at the next album just like "Utopia" on Felt Mountain hinted at Black Cherry... If that's where Goldfrapp is headed next, count me in.
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Head First
Head First by Goldfrapp (Audio CD - 2010)
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