Released: May 12
Arriving with her debut solo album, Alison Goldfrapp conjures an electronic dreamworld as she unveils ‘The Love Invention’.
For more than two decades, the musician has worked closely with Goldfrapp collaborator Will Gregory, but in stepping away from familiarity the singer and songwriter finds new creative equals with Richard X and James Greenwood and in doing so delivers a defining record in her near-30-year career.
Opening with pre-release single NeverStop – an ode to “always feeling the wonder” and “committing to connect with each other, nature and our surroundings while trying to navigate through the contradictions and complexities of life” – ‘The Love Invention’ is heavy with synthesisers and electronic beats, over which Alison’s distinctive breathy vocals inject a sense of wide-eyed wonder.
While much of the album is made for the clubs, there’s a vibrancy to the material that radiates across the set, with So Hard So Hot conjuring the sweat-soaked atmosphere of summer festival raves while reaching into nocturnal darkness as she sings, ‘Do you know how the stars were made / Yeah you know how to radiate’.
It’s a dichotomy seen in the alternative versions of Digging Deeper Now and Fever, which first appeared in remixed form, courtesy of Claptone and Paul Woolford, respectively, but are included on the standard tracklist in their original configurations as electro pop numbers as opposed to headier moments. While both are laden with intensified beats, the production of the original versions is perfection – a standard that’s held across the entirety of ‘The Love Invention’ – to the point where the amped-up mixes ironically feel under-produced when compared to the nuanced arrangements on the album itself.
From the productions and performances to the songs themselves, nothing about this album is spared, but at its core ‘The Love Invention’ is a pop record that implores you to surrender to the music and embrace the moment – right now. The sublime synth pop of Fever is an ode to the intoxicating majesty of the dancefloor, with a chorus that explodes as if setting off a glitter cannon, while the Balearic synths and a swooping punch-the-air chorus on Love Invention (Dr. What?) capture an unmistakable sense of pleasure.
Similarly, highlights like In Electric Blue exude uninhibited liberation, with a synth pop confection that captures the surrender of one immersed in the first throes of love. “It makes me think of shiny cars, and that rush of energy and elation you have as a teenager,” says Alison, who at 56 years of age has no reservations about exploring her fantasies and deepest pleasures in a sandbox without boundaries, with a freedom that radiates in her delivery. It should also be noted that the entirety of the vocals on the album, which are frequently layered and oftentimes augmented, come from the musician herself.
On the dreamy yet foreboding Subterfuge, Alison cut up and looped spliced vocal tracks to create a textural, rhythmic palette for one of the more experimental tunes on this wholly varied body of work, while closing track SLoFLo is a dreamy slice of laid back electronic pop that’s among the most beautiful pieces of work she’s ever lent her voice to.
Meanwhile, album highlight The Beat Divine is a sultry slice of after-dark disco, as she extends a rallying call to unite on the dance floor and makes use of her musical power to bring people together and live in the here and now. ‘You’re the music, sensual elevation’,” she sings, as if embodying the intoxicating beats and inescapable euphoria of the club scene. ‘You’re the astral invitation’.
For years, Alison Goldfrapp has been the face and voice of her eponymous synth pop act and you’d be forgiven for asking – what’s the fuss about? But from the opening beats of ‘The Love Invention’, there’s a shift in her musical sphere that sees the artist elevate her craft to soaring new heights, relieving herself of all inhibitions and hang-ups and instead following her intuition and creating an unfaltering slice of shimmering electro pop that feels like it’s been building inside of her, waiting to scream out into the ether, for years.
Cut to the heart of the matter, though, and ‘The Love Invention’ is also a bloody good pop record that has everything great pop music should: infectious beats, undeniable hooks, great lyrics and, at the forefront of it all, one of British pop’s brightest and most enduring stars.