Judging from the cover art alone, Head First by Goldfrapp looks like an adventure in cotton-candy land. I figure that might be ironic. I could be dealing with a heavy metal album and not even know it.
Almost to my disappointment, Head First is not even remotely heavy metal. The genre, which iTunes classifies as electronica, is in my opinion much more pop-oriented. Because I love these analogies, Head First is Purity Ring meets Madonna. It’s also the most optimistic album I think I’ve ever heard. And I don’t mean that specifically regarding the lyrics. I mean that Goldfrapp sets the listener up for toe-tapping right off the top and a general happy-dance-party feeling throughout.
If there’s one thing that drives me up the wall with some music, it’s when an artist does fade-outs at the end of every track. It feels like a cop-out to me. “Oh, we didn’t know how to end the song, so we just, you know, like, faded it out.” This isn’t true all the time. But generally speaking, I would rather a song had a real ending. Goldfrapp is really good at real endings. Their first song, “Rocket”, appropriately ends somewhat abruptly with a whooshing rocket sound. I was surprised, but also intrigued. Sound effects are hard to pull off.
If you’re looking for easy listening essay-writing tunes, I’ve found your album. The trade-off, though, is that all the songs do kind of blur together after a while. I’m not bored exactly, but I am listening in a bit of a cotton-candy haze. It’s sweet and wonderful, but my judgement has been affected by dyed sugar crystals.
There are, however, a couple of songs that stand out. “Dreaming” (also appropriately) paints a picture that is not entirely of this world. I find myself transported, and I’m not worried about anything but the song I’m listening to.
“Hunt” sticks with me because of how creepy it is compared to the other tracks. The lyrics in the chorus go: “Tell us nothing, tell us lies / Revelations no surprise / Tonight they hunt for you”. I like it. There is no darkness without light; you know what I mean?
My biggest complaint with Head First is the lack of conflict. I don’t feel like there’s a story to this album—it just exists. And that’s great. Existing is great. But it’s not enough to make me listen to Head First nonstop for days.