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Hear Me Out: New albums by Goldfrapp, Woodpigeon
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Hear Me Out: New albums by Goldfrapp, Woodpigeon

by Chris Azzopardi - SGN Contributing Writer

Goldfrapp, Head First
Remember how desperately you wanted to get your Supernature-style groove on during the release of the British duo's 2008 dance-ditching release, Seventh Tree? Now you can. Whimsical introspectiveness takes a zippy ride on the ABBA rocket, soaring through a cosmic heaven that's about as blissful and levitating as a sugar rush. Upon their livelier descent into this euphoric fantasy - driven by spacey synths, walloping drums and Alison Goldfrapp's dreamy murmurs - is an opening bunch of songs that's to ears what cotton candy is to mouths. Launching with the futuristic "Rocket," adorned in air-lift effects and the irresistible "ooh ooh ooh" chorus, their direction switcheroo - swathed in Saturday Night Fever disco, especially with the feel-good buoyancy of "Alive" - is still moving, but more literally this go 'round. There's the calming nature of "Daydream" and the effervescent, roller-skating-ready "Believer" - sounding as Gay and fun and carefree as Goldfrapp's ever been. Mellowing in the latter half of the breezy nine-song set, there's still the in-a-daze effect that cohesively links the outing as if it's transitioning from nighttime dance party to morning-after lull on "Voicething." Big drums become a subtle synth drone while Alison's voice chirps and channels Enya. Sure beats an alarm clock.
Grade: A-

Woodpigeon, Die Stadt Muzikanten

Mark Hamilton, the out frontman of the Canada-born Woodpigeon, sounds exactly like you'd expect him to if you took a passing glance at his pic. It's the beard, the cold-gear clothes - and the solemn look on nearly every photo he's in. And, like the Ray LaMontagnes of the world, that's just what his band delivers on their third full-length (and, at over an hour, it's about as full as can be, sometimes cumbersomely so): lo-fi and orchestral folk-rock tunes for the bummed-out and winter-weather worn. Themes are derived from a recent trip to Europe and his grandparents' immigration to Canada - and all of them are crafted with the utmost circumspection, embellishing on theatrical leanings and, on "Empty-Hall Sing-Along," scoring a rollicking melody that does exactly what its title suggests. Also worth fawning over is Hamilton's fragile voice: Dreamy and surreal, he's like an angel whispering into your ears as he alternates seamlessly from sigh-inducing soother to barroom toe-tapper. Losing yourself in the intimate chill of Woodpigeon's sound - especially on "...And as the Ship Went Down, You'd Never Looked Finer," like a waterfall tumbling into a pool of instruments - is about as easy as finding your way out.
Grade: B+

Also Out
a balladeer, Where Are You, Bambi Woods?

Yep, Bambi Woods the porn star, one of many character studies on the Dutch pop-rock trio's promising major-label debut. The wrenching "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is about John F. Kennedy's assassination, told from Jackie's perspective, and Matthew Shepard is remembered on the heartfelt-but-overreaching "Poster Child," crying strings and all. Throughout, Gay lead singer Marinus de Goederen sings likes he's Counting Crows' Adam Duritz. And that's a good thing.

Jason DeRulo, Jason DeRulo
If only his debut sounded as good as his body looks. But, alas, not even opening for Lady Gaga showered any originality on his first LP - rudimentary R&B beats that have an instant potency and all the substance of the Pratts. "Whatcha Say" made noise on the charts last year with its thundering Imogen Heap-sampled sound, and many of these maintain that hooky mojo: the peppy pop of "Love Hangover" and "In My Head." He'll find his way to yours, but not for long.

She & Him, Volume Two
All the cuteness in the world couldn't keep up with this too-adorable-for-words twosome who sing doo-wop ditties about break-ups and car rides. The indie-folkies' sophomore outing finds M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel - that heartbreaker from (500) Days of Summer - charming with retro goodies like "In the Sun." On "Thieves," Deschanel's choked-up singing is like present-day Patsy Cline. That alone makes up for her crushing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's poor heart.

Reach Chris Azzopardi at chris@pridesource.com.

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