Goldfrapp has zigzagged in their musical stylings over the years, from the ethereal Felt Mountain to the dance experiments of Black Cherry to the all out synthpop sound of Supernature to the slow rhythms of Seventh Tree and now to Head First, an album more in keeping with the tone of Supernature, which truly is the sound they work best with. And even if the modulations of this album are emulations of bands that have done it better (Human League, Soft Cell, Yaz, et. al.), it is worth noting in a genre that once seemed to be waning that Goldfrapp has successfully resuscitated the true blue sound of the eighties.
Proof of that ode to the Reagan era is the first track that launches the album, "Rocket," borrowing heavily from the sounds of Van Halen's "Jump." The lyrics of "Rocket" also set the stage for the simplicity of the album's prose in favor of emphasizing Will Gregory's sonorous poetry. "Believer" follows, with Alison Goldfrapp's distinctively melodic voice echoing the pitch of Donna Summer's exclamations of ecstasy on "I Feel Love." The third track, "Alive," is the most modern, maybe even something Kesha could pull off, with lines like, "I woke up with the rising sun I was blinded by the light/Jump up and pull on my jeans, it feels good there, a little tight."
After "Alive" the album veers right back to its early eighties vibe with "Dreaming," appropriately titled considering the gossamer beats throughout. The title track, "Head First," is a flagrant derivation of OMD's "(Forever) Live and Die," but actually includes some of the album's more memorable lyrics: "I'm waiting/Longing for you/One more night and then I'm gone/I am your visitor/I'm on the other side of your world."
"Hunt" is the moodiest track on Head First, a song that could easily fit in with the offerings on Goldfrapp's last album, Seventh Tree. Picking up the pace after "Hunt" is "Shiny and Warm," in which Goldfrapp finally steals from itself by imitating track 9 on Supernature, "Satin Chic."
"I Wanna Life," the second to last track is somewhat unique from the others in that it sounds more like early 90s dance (think "Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap!) than all-out synthpop. By track 9, "Voicething," our short-lived journey with Goldfrapp is already over. Faster than the speed of a time machine to 1984, we are taken to and from the decade of cocaine and back to the present (the decade of meth and anything else that will get you to the point of oblivion). Such a feat is the mark of an album worth getting.