First review from RetroPop (ddd):
Also, the Irish Times:
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.
Also, the Irish Times:
The opening line of Alison Goldfrapp’s debut solo album sets the tone perfectly, with a disembodied voice asking, “How do you see yourself? How do you imagine the world around you? Tell me.”
Goldfrapp has been sharing her unique vision of the world with her audience for more than two decades, and with every record it has differed. With Will Gregory, her musical partner in Goldfrapp the duo, the London-born musician has reinvented herself time and again, from the eerie adventures in trip hop and ambient soundscapes of Felt Mountain to the electro-glam buzz of Black Cherry, the pastoral Seventh Tree and the soaring 1980s-tinged synth-pop of Head First. It has, you might say, been difficult to pin her down despite her often low-key yet significant influence; even Madonna, an artist synonymous with reconstructing her sound repeatedly over the years, was once disparagingly labelled “Oldfrapp”.
Six years after Goldfrapp’s last album with Gregory it’s time for another fork in the road. With Covid scuppering their planned 20th-anniversary tour of Felt Mountain, in 2020, she spent lockdown working on her own music instead. Goldfrapp has always planted her sound in different worlds, but her solo debut is her self-described “tribute to the dance floor”, writing mostly with one the most forward-thinking proponents of pop in the biz, Richard X.
This is, for all intents and purposes, Goldfrapp’s house album, from the synthy club opener Never Stop to the slow, sensual midtempo syncopation of The Beat Divine and the grimy judder of Subterfuge. Gatto Gelato flirts with Italo disco, bridging a squelchy, glam stomp with a chic European breathiness; the standout track Fever, with its arms-aloft build and zooming synthesisers, will inevitably generate comparisons with Róisín Murphy.
Yet while there are certainly plenty of hooks, breathy vocals and lyrics that recount both the dizzying sensation of new love (“All your colours breathe life back into me, in my head, in my heart, in my face” from Digging Deeper Now; and the title track’s breathy declaration that “I’ve never had a love that felt so good”) and the end of a relationship, there is a niggling lack of heart and melody to many of these songs, something the aforementioned Gregory arguably brought to the table. True, when you simply want to raise your hands to the sky and dance, the more intricate details of a song become trivial. Still, while there are plenty of glittering numbers on this very decent album, it mostly whets the appetite for what Goldfrapp the duo might come up with next.