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Head First

3.7 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (22 Mar. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mute
  • ASIN: B00353RUPC
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,521 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Fifth studio album by the British electronic duo, containing the singles 'Rocket' and 'Alive'.

BBC Review

Poor Goldfrapp. For the last decade they’ve been making extremely listenable music, from the austere chill of 2000’s debut Felt Mountain, via the Black Forest electro-Weimar wolf porn of 2003’s Black Cherry, to the retro-futuristic electro disco glitter of Supernature in 2005 – but it’s always seemed as though Alison and Will have been the ones to hold open a door for others. Of the far-out females with either vintage headdresses and/or an interest in keyboards or harps to have emerged in the last five years, at least 85% can be found with some ‘Frapp influence in their musical DNA.

On their fifth album, the duo has put away the maypole and mummery of 2008’s folk-flavoured Seventh Tree, and rummaged through the box marked big synths, lasers, jumpsuits and all things shiny. And the results are all-out pop, gloriously so. Not that they haven’t expressed this side before, as the big choruses and winning hooks of the likes of Ooh La La, Caravan Girl, Strict Machine and A&E have shown in the past, but here they maintain the quality throughout a full album. Opener Rocket is a fine continuation of the above lineage. It couldn’t be more 80s if it arrived sweaty from a Jane Fonda workout, dressed in a neon legwarmers and a fashionably ripped Van Halen t-shirt. If it doesn’t knock the top ten for six, that’ll be a mystery for future generations to mull.

The album’s 80s qualities are particularly reminiscent of the turn of said decade – the stupendous Believer, with its stadium-sized chorus, appears like a turbo-charged Fleetwood Mac, and while Alive initially echoes The Feeling, it soon expands into a broader wonder evocative of ELO’s most-imperial phase. Even the title-track seems to take every horrible shoulder pad-recalling sound imaginable from a synth before dabbling in late ABBA fare. It’s not all fright-wigs, though – closer Voicething channels Stockhausen’s Stimmung to delightful effect, and a foxy frisson permeates Shiny and Warm. In fact, shiny and warm sums the whole album up.

At an economic 38 minutes and free of anything in the slightest bit terrible, you should welcome Head First like the first sun of spring, know it inside out by the time the band are slaying festival crowds mid-summer and possibly buying copies to give to close friends and family at Christmas. The word’s overused, but this album deserves it: amazing. --Ian Wade

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
When I first heard the single "Rocket" I was horrified. It was played one afternoon while I was at work. "Rocket" came on the radio and I immediately accused a colleague of changing the channel from 6Music to Radio2. As I listened further I began to recognise the voice but didn't want to believe that it was actually Goldfrapp. My mind filled with images of Van Halen's "Jump", Starship and other equally big-haired US west-coast MOR acts who blighted my formative years.

Investigating further I discovered that the whole album was a trip back to many different sounds from the 80s and suddenly "Rocket" was in context and my previous shortsightedness melted away. Even though it happens to me every time they release a new album I had fallen into the same old trap which seems to define my relationship with the music of Goldfrapp. I realise this is part of their appeal and I do know they change their sound every album but I seemingly just need to be wrong-footed every time in order to appreciate it.

Any personal prejudice I may have about (some of) that 80's sound is totally irrelevant because Goldfrapp make it their own. I can almost understand why some may initially dismiss this album as lightweight or lazy but remember this is Goldfrapp and they just don't do lazy. I think the confusion arises because they manage to make it all sound so effortless which, somewhat ironically, actually takes a lot of hard work and talent to achieve.
Listen again and listen with an open mind. The tracks on "Head First" may be fizzy 80's pop on the surface but they are also typically warm and lush and slightly unusual in that singular and distinctive way that Goldfrapp do so well.
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Format: Vinyl
So why would this bloke buy vinyl in this digital age. The most obvious reason is you can appreciate the cover artwork more and you get a nice Goldfrapp poster in a beautifully produced sleeve. The album itself is 180g vinyl so there's none of that vintage snap, crackle and pop. However, my main reason for buying `Head First' on vinyl was the disappointing sound quality on `Supernature'. For me Supernature had excellent songs spoilt by overdriven sound levels leading to compressed dynamic range that gave this album a harsh, tiring sound. For example the violins of the sumptuous `Time out from the World' sound harsh and gritty when they should have been honey smooth. On taking off my music anorak I need not have worried. The sound quality of both vinyl and CD versions of Head First is as excellent as all the `Frappers other albums. The vinyl version sounds more lush and smooth with wonderful spacious mid-range while the CD is clean, fast and punchy. Alison's voice sounds wonderfully seductive regardless.
On first listen to Head First with my audiophile anorak off I found I still had my `music snob' hat on. Finding, as some other reviewers did, songs that sounded uncharacteristically derivative and predictable. All those seventies and eighties references where there with the first three tracks sounding like `Blondie joins Human League' while the title track wouldn't sound out of place on an Abba album. However, on repeated listening the penny starts to drop as you realise they are being unpredictable, I for one didn't think they would follow the lyrical, almost folky `Seventh Tree' with eighties infected dance floor fillers!
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Format: Audio CD
I'm really beginning to think of Goldfrapp as a latterday David Bowie with the same chameleon-like qualities for reinventing themselves every album or so, due to either Will reprogramming his synths or Alison tiring of her current wardrobe. Like Bowie, Goldfrapp are proving themselves to be very adept at taking a particular musical genre and sprinkling it with stardust to produce the genre in their own inimitable style.

This time up Goldfrapp are reinterpreting the eighties and in particular the sound of Euro-pop legends, Abba. But, you can also detect references to Kraftwerk, Laurie Anderson, Vangelis and Giorgio Moroder. The opener, 'Rocket', is a perfect example of the new sound. A great chorus, 'I've got a rocket and you're going on it', backed up with a lush, synth riff. The lyrics possibly refer to the inner thoughts of a jealous woman scorned in a love triangle. The title track, 'Head First' reminds me of `Chiquitita' with it's characteristic Abba, bouncy-piano melody. 'Alive' and 'Believer' are great takes on the swirly synth riffs characterized by Giorgio Moroder.

Goldfrapp stated in an interview recently that they wrote these new songs very quickly and without too much thought of aiming for a particular sound. But, Alison did admit to listening to some late Abba albums including 'Visitors' and listening to this you can detect a similarity between the two albums. (Given that we have only just got over Mamma Mia, surely it isn't time yet for *another* Abba revival!)

Anyway, this album is simply the sound of Goldfrapp having fun and the tracks I've mentioned are very enjoyable and should see Goldfrapp sitting in the charts all summer. But, after these first few good songs the rest of the album quickly fizzles out.
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