Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Goldfrapp – Rocket

No proper video for this yet, so you’ll just have to settle for her getting hugged by a giant owl…


Dan MacRae: Allison & Will return with a composition of deceptively sunny skies, 1984 Van Halen synths and choruses as NASA-friendly mission statements. Is it elegant ennui or the pegging anthem of 2010? Why not both?

Keane Tzong: A simplified version of Van Halen’s “Jump” is certainly “unexpected” in its own way, so I guess this would be a fun curio for that reason alone. True to its ancestry, and befitting its status as a Goldfrapp lead single, “Rocket” is as obvious and plainly melodic as pop songs come, so instead of a random oddity, we have… my first favorite single of 2010. Result! The kitsch creeping in around the corners is only a welcome bonus.

Tom Ewing: This is kind of Goldfrapp’s “My Life Would Suck Without You”: easy to see as a climbdown after a queasily-received direction shift, but also pretty much undeniable once you get over that initial mild disappointment. The least ‘interesting’ Goldfrapp single ever, “Rocket” cribs from the fag end of the disco boom and sounds more at ease with itself than normal. It ends with a countdown and an explosion; on the sleeve she’s firing lazer hands. That kind of fun.

Edward Okulicz: Goldfrapp have been fun in the past, but mostly in an arch way. This is such a guilelessly fun stylistic left-turn for them that perhaps there was some actual glee in that cover of “Physical” they did years ago. “Rocket” itself could even have been an Olivia Newton-John single from the Xanadu era, such is its simplicity, catchiness and insistence that you move. It’s a sexy record without making the mistake of resorting to Alison Goldfrapp’s played-out (and never very convincing) attempts to be a minx. The old Goldfrapp might have used rocket as a sexual metaphor; here, it’s her way of blasting her unfaithful lover away. The verses, chorus and the middle-eight are all top-notch melodically and even though the countdown at the end is gimmicky and silly, it’s a really good silly gimmick

Alex Ostroff: Is there some universal law of 80s electro pastiche that dictates all men must sound pathetic and needy while women automatically become awesome? Goldfrapp play with the same basic elements as Hot Chip, but manage to be both wistful and strong. Alison’s reflections on a crumbling relationship and cheating lover regret without wallowing, while “I’ve got a rocket; You’re going on it…You’re never coming back” is the best bait-and-switch break-up in pop music since “To the left, to the left…”

Martin Skidmore: I rarely like them as much as I sort of expect to, and this is no exception. The music is ’80s dance pop of a pretty anonymous kind, and her voice isn’t a great deal more interesting. Completely forgettable.

Doug Robertson: Whenever I read about Goldfrapp they always sound amazing, but the reality of actually listening to them never quite matches up to what I want them to be. On paper this would be brilliant and ticks all my boxes, but by the time it’s converted into music and travels all the way up to my ears it all ends up being nothing more than a glossy meh-ness. One day the world will live up to my imagination.

Anthony Easton: If we are lucky rockets will be the new robots, and then someone like Annie or Robyn can make a phallic metaphor that is an act of absolute filth and candy-coated pop delight. Thanks to Goldfrapp for clearing the ground for that potential landing.

Ramzy Alwakeel: After Seventh Tree effected Goldfrapp’s ‘tasteful again’ comeback spectacularly by halves, this taster from Head First is nothing if not concerted. As difficult to ignore as Hudson Mohawke’s recent Butter album, but with little of the vitalit[e]y, the single romps terribly through the title sequence of a humourless daytime detective series before launching itself onto a college track-and-field event in 1976 America. A wistful string line and an air of professionalism, however, lend the project an unlikely magnetism.

Martin Kavka: This could have been lifted straight from the soundtrack to a middling ’80s film. Like much of the work of that decade which taught popstars how to fake it, there is only a patina of joy coursing through those keyboard stabs, as if the narrator is just too tired to really dump her guy for cheating on her. Or maybe she’s too drugged out, and will find herself back in A&E in a matter of weeks.

Chuck Eddy: Primary test of “Rocket” songs is that they sound somewhat rocket-like, and I’d say this one really doesn’t, at least between its opening and closing blastoff parts. (Based on one cursory listen, their “Train” song from 2003 definitely sounds way more train-like.) Still, some pleasantly popwise something or other going on here. Very cute chorus. If they have lots of singles this cute, a best-of CD might well prove useful.

Mallory O’Donnell: The best thing about the Singles Jukebox is that I have a ready-made checklist for this sort of thing: ridiculously dated synthesizer fills from the valley of the killer leg-warmers? Check. Terrible, tired double-entendre? Check. Accidentally being a Frank Stallone cover? Check…

Alfred Soto: Maybe they would roar past Bat for Lashes too, if I could tell them apart.

Matt Cibula: There seem to be two modes to Goldfrapp, and I prefer the stranger and more wonderful one. But this blatant pop/dance mode is okay too. Just can’t get too worked up about it or anything.

Ian Mathers: I can’t shake the feeling that the synths here are identical to something I grew up with not just in sonic tone (that’s easy – Van Halen) but in melody. And truth be told, after the devastating “A&E,” I’m kind of disappointed that Goldfrapp is just singing about an easy, fairly unengaged (albeit fun) kiss-off instead of something weightier. But that chorus is awfully satisfying even if you aren’t kicking someone to the curb, and while I’m not much of a Van Halen fan, I could listen to the synths from “Jump” play nearly anything with pleasure.

6 Responses to “Goldfrapp – Rocket”

  1. I’m unconvinced by this track, but then again I haven’t really been convinced by any of Goldfrapp’s singles for nearly ten years – I found their glam rock stuff disappointing, and their twee tree-hugging stuff failed to melt my icy heart (prob because I mostly ignore deep n meaningful lyrics). But they were really good at doing the hungover coffee table Angelo Badalamenti swoosh – they’re not that band anymore and I don’t expect it from them, but all their tunes since have fallen flat on my ears. I’m probably missing something?

  2. I forgot to go in and lower my mark on this, 8 was pushing it a bit.

  3. Goldfrapp have too many solid gold songs in too many modes – “Utopia”, “Human”, “Strict Machine”, “Train” as Chuck mentions, “A&E” – for me to ever write off, but a lot of the time they’re passable B-listers in fields where A-listers aren’t exactly hard to come by. I don’t know what I think about “Rocket” yet, listened once and it didn’t inspire me to even have an opinion, definitely didn’t hear any sort of undeniably big hook though.

  4. I’d say “Rocket” definitely has hooks, maybe not ‘big’ hooks, but still… What I like about it is that even though everything in it sounds incredibly cheap, it sort of retains the refinement and elegance that all Goldfrapp records have.

  5. Ian Mathers, re the synth melody, I had the same feeling and someone suggested Menudo. Both “Subete a mi Moto” and “Claridad” sounded like possible candidates for me.

  6. Entirely possible (and thanks), but I’ve never knowingly heard a Menudo song; I don’t think they were ever big in Canada.