Back to the future – 2 album reviews

I realise that it’s about time I wrote another music review! This one’s a double:

Goldfrapp’s Head First and Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach

I’ve called this review ‘back to the future’ as both these albums have a real air of nostalgia for me – as someone who grew up in the 80s.

Most obviously is Goldfrapp’s Head First. After their woozy 70s-influenced folky album, Seventh Tree, they have moved back to their first love of electronic dance music. I love Alison Goldfrapp, she is such a pioneer and a true fashion icon. You can guarantee that what you hear on this album will start coming out on other people’s albums in 2 or 3 years time. The biggest part of this album is the use of synths. It’s so 80s, lots of power ballad-style music. The keyboard solo in Alive actually makes me laugh with recognition every time I hear it. It sounds just like the soundtrack to an 80s kids’ cartoon or an episode of Knightmare (remember that?)! The track also sounds like it could have been written by the Scissor Sisters – I’m sure they could do a brilliant cover of it. Elsewhere there is something of a hint of the Eurythmics – it’s made me want to listen to them again. Now that the 80s are far enough in the past, it is possible to appreciate the rhythms and synthesisers which characterised that decade.

Although I really enjoyed this album I am not sure it really bears repeating. However, I feel that with quite a lot of Goldfrapp’s music. It sounds like an insult (I don’t mean it to be) but I think they are a great ‘singles’ band. They are great for the odd track to be heard on its own. After a whole album of it, it sometimes can get trying.

But, if like me, you grew up in the 80s, it is worth listening to this for the nostalgia trip.

Here’s my favourite track, Alive:

On the other hand, the Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach absolutely does bear repeating. It’s a dreamlike album with the most unlikely collaborations. I don’t know how Damon Albarn has done it but he has got rock music’s two most grumpy men to appear on this album: Lou Reed and Mark E. Smith! Amazing stuff, and they’re jostling alongside Snoop Dogg and Bobby Womack with a dizzying array of others! You couldn’t have guessed this line-up!

I absolutely love the percussion on the track White Flag. Superfast Jellyfish is probably the stand-out single. The only times I get slightly irritated on the album is where Albarn adds backing vocals – I kind of wish he had stayed out of the Lou Reed track in particular. His voice sounds slightly intrusive in places.

The Gorillaz concept is a great one for this array of brilliant musicians to collaborate. A cartoon band that they can ‘hide’ behind and just do their thing.

I can’t really describe this album to you, it’s eclectic for sure, most of it works, but not all of it. This doesn’t really matter though, as you feel that all the artists had a great time making this record. I’ve included it in this review with Goldfrapp as there are hints of 80s nostalgia for me too in this album. I think it’s something about the mention of Casio on the track Plastic Beach (I had a Casio keyboard when I was a kid)! It’ll definitely be one of my albums of the year and you will hear something new every time you listen to it.

Here’s the most fun track (in my opinion):

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