Alison Goldfrapp: The Love Invention album review - pure, unadulterated fun
It’s a little confusing to think of this as Alison Goldfrapp’s first solo album. All seven Goldfrapp albums bore her surname and an image of her alone on the cover. Her musical partner, Will Gregory, kept an even lower profile than the usual synthpop dynamic – which has served us well from Eurythmics and Pet Shop Boys to CHVRCHES and Years & Years today – of charismatic attention-hoovering singer plus glowering anonymous bloke or blokes in the background. He didn’t even play in the live band.
The real dividing line between Goldfrapp and Alison becomes apparent when you press play. Goldfrapp had their fun, dancier moments across a long career that saw them rise from the tail end of the trip hop scene and touch on wistful folk and lush soundscapes along the way to their last album, Silver Eye, in 2017. What simpler pleasure could there be than a grinding dance track called Ooh La La? Other upbeat Goldfrapp songs such as Train, Rocket and Strict Machine depicted relentless machine movement, an unstoppable robotic propulsion towards the dancefloor.
But there was generally a darkness audible in those earlier songs, an unsettling edge that was particularly apparent amid the scratchier beats of Silver Eye. Here the listener can take the songs at face value and relax into the blissful disco grooves. “I feel like there’s a lot to be said for pure unadulterated fun,” she has said, and she definitely says it here. Even So Hard So Hot, which despite its steamy title is apparently an expression of worry about climate change, struts along on a rubbery bassline that makes its chorus, “Now I live my life in the sun,” seem only like a cry of delight.
If there’s supposed to be some cynicism around the title track, which seems to be about a doctor’s concoction that generates fake feelings of love, again the glittering synths and lines such as “I’ve never had a love that felt so good” are euphoric enough to sweep away any doubt.
Elsewhere she sounds entirely loved up. Her breathy vocals positively purr on the slightly slower The Beat Divine: “Only love can make you feel alive.” Gatto Gelato is a spiralling serving of Italo disco on which she repeats simply: “I can make you feel it.” It’s best to give up looking for any underbelly and give in to the emotion. It may be a minor name change but it’s an entirely fresh start.