The Love Invention is Alison Goldfrapp’s first solo effort after two decades as half of electronic music duo Goldfrapp. In partnership with synthesiser aficionado Will Gregory, Goldfrapp’s electronica experimented with an eclectic palette of genres ranging from synth-pop to glam rock to folktronica to disco. Her first solo album leans heavily into the latter aesthetic, but where even the duo’s most floor-filling tracks had a seriousness to them, The Love Invention wants to be taken at face-value as straightforward, unadulterated fun. Crafted alongside Richard X and James Greenwood, the album is made up of rapturous, synth-heavy dance-pop that’s as sophisticated as it is euphoric. In its early stages the album was inspired by the idea of a machine or wonder drug that enables you to experience the ultimate ecstasy – the recipe of Golfrapp’s heavenly layered vocals over untiring house and disco beats produces what must be a similar experience to being plugged into such a machine were one to really exist.
The album opens with the single NeverStop, in which Goldfrapp’s breathy vocals float over an infectious bass line. She sings “you’ve arrived at the sublime”, a line which sets the tone for the rest of the album’s journey through euphoria. On the title track she describes with robotically whispered vocals a love that feels so good that it makes her question “is this real or not?” The Beat Divine slightly slows down the tempo with an Italo-Disco inspired beat that’s just as divine as the title promises, with arpeggiated synthesisers layered over a swaggering drum beat. The Italo influence can be heard throughout the whole album but especially on Gatto Gelato, a track packed with sci-fi camp, from synth stabs that could be sound effects in a Star Wars film to repeated hooks like “mirror neurons fire”.
The two highlight tracks both appear at the album’s rear. So Hard So Hot is a summer anthem in which heat represents both harshness and freedom, a tension underpinned by a squelching, acid bass line. The light breaks through in the chorus, in which Goldfrapp blissfully sings “now I live my life in the sun”. The closing track, SLoFLo, discards the dance-centric song structure that’s threaded the album up until this point. Instead it’s a sensual, delicate wash of sound that wouldn’t sound out of place amongst the soulful electronic music of Kelela or FKA Twigs.
The Love Invention is a debut solo project that certainly won’t disappoint already established Goldfrapp fans, as for the most part it’s not a huge departure from her music with Will Gregory. Goldfrapp’s vocal production takes the centre stage here. Her usual breathy vocals are layered in such a way in which they float above the beats as if in their own heavenly plane, creating a feeling of euphoria that mirrors the album’s conceptual themes.