The Love Invention

The Love Invention

In early 2020, Alison Goldfrapp decided she needed to take a sabbatical. “I just stopped music,” she tells Apple Music. “I stopped making music, I stopped listening to music. I didn’t want to hear it. I went on a road trip on my own in New Mexico. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of driving and not listening to music. It was a real purging.” She returned to London ready to tackle long-awaited solo music away from the eponymous, beloved band she formed in 1999 with Will Gregory. “And then, of course, the pandemic happened,” she says. “‘Great,’ I thought, ‘now my bloody sabbatical’s going to go on for ages.’” Eventually, though, Goldfrapp reemerged with her “mojo back” armed with email addresses for potential collaborators. Another hiccup: Almost nobody replied to her messages. “I just think people can’t be arsed to read their emails a lot of the time,” she laughs. “The experience has made me really pride myself on getting back to people. But Röyksopp did reply! As did James Greenwood, who worked on Kelly Lee Owens’ Inner Song, which I loved.” After some exploratory work with Röyksopp, Goldfrapp got her sea legs, settled on an “atmosphere” and rules (“it had to be rhythm-based, and no real instruments allowed”) for a set that would become her “tribute to the dance floor.” Work with Greenwood ramped up between her home studio in London and his in Margate, and electro-pop icon Richard X was brought in to round off The Love Invention’s core. Below, Goldfrapp guides us through the exquisite, Italo-disco-inspired results, track by track. “NeverStop” “We start with the voice of the therapist—or the other part of your consciousness—asking you, ‘What the fuck? How do you see yourself? Where are you in all of this?’ So it’s a play. It’s about the idea of stopping and looking around you and appreciating what’s around you, because you’re going to be here for a bloody minute. So get on and enjoy it and feel the connection to your surroundings, to nature and what it is to be human—which is an ongoing theme that I’m fascinated by.” “Love Invention” “Early on I had this idea for this fantasy band, Dr. What and The Love Invention. That was going to be the idea for the album to form around. And then I thought, ‘Oh, it sounds like a psychedelic prog-rock band,’ so I toned it down a little. But he lives on here. Dr. What is this fantasy character who has created this wonder drug and machine, which enables you to experience the ultimate love experience, the ultimate euphoria, the ultimate sex, the ultimate everything. So this song is asking, ‘Is this real? Can this be real?’ It’s also a metaphor for some other consciousness.” “Digging Deeper Now” “This came out of a feeling that everything had changed—we had come out of various lockdowns, I had built my studio, I had changed, my body had changed, and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of ‘What’s next?’ I had taken my sabbatical and by that point I had reflected on a lot of things, dug deep and was ready for it. For this.” “In Electric Blue” “I worked on this one with [longtime Bruce Springsteen collaborator] Toby Scott. I went down to Brighton where he lives and I just started jamming. It’s quite daunting for me to work with new people at the beginning because I’m quite shy and I worked with Will [Gregory, her Goldfrapp bandmate] for so bloody long. But I like the energy of someone completely new. It’s all a bit uncertain and I like that tension. This song is about a ghost—about feeling someone’s presence and yearning for some precious time. It’s a romantic ghost story, essentially. I was fantasizing about being a teenager in some ’80s teen move in LA. It has a sweetness and euphoria to it that I really like.” “The Beat Divine” “The Italo disco influence across the record is particularly strong here. I felt a light go off when I tapped into that Italo disco feel. I wanted this song to have that Euro-but-New-York, light feeling to it. The song’s quite urban—I was really thinking about being in some big, noisy city.” “Fever (This Is the Real Thing)” “This was a tough one to penetrate. It’s quite a lot about climate change and about us humans being the fever. The germ. But it’s also a fever as in this frenzied feeling I was experiencing with the music—this frantic relationship I had with it. I would get so ‘What the fuck is this?’ and so wanted it to work.” “Hotel (Suite 23)” “This song is about me staying in hotels and the idea of transience. I stayed in a lot of hotels when I was going down to Margate to see James. I have a love-hate relationship with hotels, but there is a lot I love. It’s this place of fantasy, where you can be who you want to be and no one else is going to know about it. I love going to a hotel just to be on your own, too—this place to be lonely and indulge in that. So this is a humorous look at my feelings towards hotels—because I did stay in some absolutely fucking godawful places. Including one that I’m fairly certain was a brothel. And it didn’t even have a minibar.” “Subterfuge” “This has quite a different mood to everything else. I wanted it to sound really synthetic and glacial. I was really trying to find out what rhymed with 'subterfuge.' I came up with 'centrifuge,' as I always love a bit of science in there somewhere.” “Gatto Gelato” “I was very inspired here by catwalk walking. I did a lot of watching of strutting. Rhythmically, the attitude of it, the arrangements and production of a catwalk show. It was Richard’s idea to call it ‘Gatto Gelato’—it was a working title that stuck.” “So Hard So Hot” “James sent me this as a very skeletal thing, but I loved that bassline. I wanted it to have a tension and that burst of quite strident vocal—not monotone, but quite flat, quite direct. But I wanted it to then have this chorus that flew. It’s the idea of living your life in the sun and celebrating the moment.” “SLoFLo” “This is about something very specific and very personal, so I’m not going to say what it’s about. At one point I thought, ‘I want to put strings on this, real strings.’ And then I thought, ‘No, no, keep it all synth, keep it all fake.’ Nearly all the songs on the album—even though they’re very dance- and club-influenced—have a formal song structure to them, whereas this doesn’t. And it became the perfect album closer.”

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