Title: Head First
Label: Mute records
Tell me more: For the uninitiated – and where the hell have you been? – Goldfrapp are Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, who combine her sonic voice with his electro genius.
The Lowdown: Having delved into whimsical, pseudo-folk territory on Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp have revisited electro-glam with an album that’s unashamedly steeped in the glorious synths of the 1980s. The opener, Rocket, sounds suspiciously like The Pointer Sisters’ Jump, but is followed by Believer, a beauty that harks back to the radio-friendly Supernature album of 2005. It ends with Voicething which wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Kraftwerk album.
Anything else? It’s no surprise that Serge Gainsbourg and The Wicker Man film have had an audible and visual influence on the band.
Who? The Courteeners
Tell me more: Debut album produced by Stephen Street, The Smiths’ favoured producer, spawned a number of decent-sized hits in the UK. They are the background music to Coronation Street, Shameless and Gavin & Stacey.
The Lowdown: Music is global in the 21st century: there’s no reason why a kid in a housing estate in Glasgow can’t listen to a dub-funk band in New Zealand. So, in these trans-oceanic days, it’s nice to hear a band that revel in their locale. Falcon is an album born of the musically-rich north-west of England, the lyrics resonating with Mancunian landmarks, of lovers being in faraway London, and all the things that working class people in the towns across the breadth of dear old England do, like “girls singing Blondie with their heart of glass.” There will be comparisons to a Birmingham outfit, Editors, the typical “indie-rock band” but the Courteeners are the mature version of the Arctic Monkeys, their tales being of late 20s heartache and exuberance.
Anything else? Morrissey has gushed praise on them, notably in a US radio interview in which he played one of their earlier songs.
Who? The Transistors
Tell me more: Three youthful oiks from Christchurch without, presumably, a love of punting and gardens which the city is famous for. Eleven tracks, clocking in at 21 minutes: why so long??
The Lowdown: Punk punk PUNK!!! Green Day – are you listening you Hard Rock Cafe residents? It take two seconds of the opener Pleased To Meet You for the chorus to kick in, it takes a few more for me to think ‘hey, guys, perhaps you might want to slow down a wee bit’. But they ain’t listening, they just pummel on. But, despite a couple of lame tracks (so short you hardly notice them anyway) the quality’s extremely consistent. It’s the 21st century equivalent to Wire’s 1977 buzzsaw classic, Pink Flag.
Who? Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Title: Welcome To The Pleasuredome deluxe edition
Label: ZTT/ Bang
Tell me more: In 1984, these Liverpudlians had it all: Number ones hits, T-shirts sold in the High St and daytime radio bans. Two Tribes was top of the charts for nine weeks, with a video showing Ronnie Reagan and the Soviet leader Chernenko having a good ol’ fashioned punch-up in the street, a metaphor for the Cold War battles of the time. Relax, with it’s sordid gay overtones was banished from Britain’s main radio station, virtually ensuring it rocketed to the top spot in an era when the charts were still meaningful. Politics AND sex, Frankie had them both down their trousers. By 1986 a poor second album signalled the end of that career.
The Lowdown: Given the inclusion of those two monster hits, and the Christmas smash, The Power of Love, you’d be excused for thinking this was a radio-friendly give-to-the-kiddies for Xmas kinda big seller. But it’s actually a minor concept album with songs seguing into each other, tracks lasting less than a minute and some adults-only sound effects. There’s a brilliant, very individual, cover of Springsteen’s Born To Run and they also have a bash at Edwin Starr’s War and the gloriously campy San Jose.
Anything else? DJ Mike Reed is famously credited/ blamed for the banning of Relax after condemning on air the lyrics and suggestive record cover. However, Radio One had already decided to quietly shuffle it under the carpet, so quietly in fact, that Reed was unaware of the move.