Electro-pop duo Goldfrapp wrapped work on their fifth album Head First (due March 9th) just a few weeks ago. "It's so new we don't even know what we think about it," says lead synthesizer tweaker Will Gregory. The pair wrote and recorded the entire record in a six-month blur between March and December of 2009, only breaking to work on the score to the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy. "It was a bit mental," says lead singer and co-songwriter Alison Goldfrapp. "The last month was a bit scary. But actually I quite like that we just did it, bam, done, next thing. Although a couple of things suffered for it. We're doing another photo shoot because there wasn't enough time to pick out what I wanted to wear."
After skipping down a folkie, pastoral direction on last year's Seventh Tree, the band has returned full-force to the expansive synth work that made them underground darlings. Absorbing the ethereal atmosphere of Giorgio Moroder's Cat People soundtrack and the skeletal fuzz-bluster of Suicide's 1977 melancholy synth-punk blueprint "Cheree," Head First has an edge that's softer, warmer and dreamier than Goldfrapp's Dance Chart-topping club bangers like "Ooh La La." As Gregory says, "It was more about the way the songs work melodically than it was about being a big electronic racket. We're just trying to evolve, get closer to the essence of what a bloody good song is."
Accordingly, the hooks on Head First are the group's most optimistic and immediate to date. Alison equates a new positive outlook due to a series of life decisions that she won't elaborate upon, but sums up with, "Yeah, I got happy." Deliberately setting out to make an "up" record, the band has been listening to late period Abba and Gregory had been spinning Electric Light Orchestra. "It's listening to things that miss in a particular way," says Gregory. "ELO misses in a fantastic way, but it definitely isn't cool."
Beyond the sessions for Head First, the duo had spent a week in Los Angeles in 2009, blessing pop superstar Christina Aguilera with some retro-futuristic sounds for her upcoming, electro-heavy fourth album Bionic. Although whether the track will be included is anybody's guess.
"We don't know what's happening with it," says Goldfrapp. "We don't know whether she's having an album out and we don't know if the track's on the album. We know nothing." "She was very sweet. Very professional, really onâ€¦ She knew exactly what she wanted. She was really articulate about what she was trying to do. Just seemed really in control," adds Gregory. "We got the track to a certain point. But we haven't heard anything since. It kind of needs finishing."
When asked what the Goldfrapp/Christina collaboration sounds like, Gregory exclaims, "I don't remember!"
"Not that good as far as we're concerned, because it needs some work," adds Goldfrapp. "So we fucking hope it isn't going on the record, because it ain't finished!"