Review : Gossip - A Joyful Noise
HardcandymusicOn their fifth studio album, A Joyful Noise, Gossip teamed up with pop production royalty Brian Higgins of Xenomania (Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud, Florrie) which I would have found a surprising choice if not for the pop leanings of their near perfect Music For Men album released back in 2010.
The production on A Joyful Noise is highly polished, Higgins is a master of his craft after all. It’s armed to the teeth with brilliantly crafted pop jams on which Ditto’s voice is still the star. She listened to a lot of ABBA in the run up to recording the album, and while there are no direct influences I can pinpoint, many of the songs do have a disco feel. It’s not just throwaway dance music though, even on the really heavy dance tracks Beth’s voice has such an emotional quality you find yourself somewhere between sadness and sheer happiness....full text
BbcAnyone shocked by the advanced commercial bent of Gossip’s fifth album should refer to the Washington trio’s 2006 breakthrough LP Standing in the Way of Control – track four, Coal to Diamonds, is a soul ballad not a zillion miles from Cyndi Lauper or Stevie Nicks. Or how 2009’s Music for Men offset its serrated, sinewy tendencies with house-y piano. Despite the band’s stereotypically defined riot grrrl origins and Beth Ditto’s stereotypically defined ‘sassy’ reputation, Gossip have were never truly hardcore or confrontational, despite the homo-core politics of …Control’s brilliant title-track. But the way the opening salvos of A Joyful Noise share a spiritual DNA with Madonna is still a real eye-opener.
That Gossip should be vilified for this shift depends on your own hard-line hardcore beliefs, and if you like to host disco vinyl bonfire parties. Or your view of its producer, Brian ‘Xenomania’ Higgins, whose CV includes Girls Aloud and The Saturdays. Higgins is no vulgar Stock Aitken Waterman factory line, and there’s a gorgeous swish to his dovetailing synths and syncopated drum pumps; though the way he routinely deploys guitars is surely not what Gossip’s Nathan Howdeshell was put on this earth for. Under Higgins’ guidance, Gossip a less a band, more a Pro-Tooled route one to the chart summit, albeit a route one with Beth Ditto at the front....full text
MusicomhIt has been six years since Gossip crashed into the widespread public consciousness with the intensely thrilling dance punk of breakthrough album Standing In The Way Of Control and its inescapable title track. In the intervening years, the Washington trio of Beth Ditto, Nathan Howdeshell and Hannah Billie have embarked on a gradual smoothing out and refinement of their sound, embracing ever more commercial and dance floor oriented pop influences.
2009’s Music For Men was a rather conflicted album that saw them moving in a more overtly pop direction but still retaining some of that old punk fire, resulting in a rather muddled album. A Joyful Noise sees the trio crystallising their love of big brash dance pop with an album that utterly embraces shiny commercial pop and everything that goes with it, with limited success.
The most obvious example of A Joyful Noise’s willingness to go for the pop jugular is the employment of Xenomania’s Brian Higgins as producer. Xenomania are, of course, the pop production powerhouse responsible for the sound of Girls Aloud and The Saturdays. Higgins’ pop expertise has allowed Gossip to realise their commercial pop ambitions with his smooth glistening productions, but there is an inescapable sense that some of their personality and thrilling sense of abandon has been sacrificed.
Beth Ditto is the magnetic presence that dominates Gossip and her creative vision and presence is all over the album. Ditto has spoken of spending the whole year listening to ABBA while making the record, and that love of pristine melodic pop comes across throughout the album. Melody Emergency opens with a slinky melody with Ditto’s vocals very much to the fore. When the guitars come in at the chorus they are crunchingly processed and rock in the manner of a factory line production rather than a ragged punk band, the guitar sounds tacked on amid sweeping synth lines and syncopated beats. At times, the album feels more like a Beth Ditto solo album rather than the organic work of a real band. Indeed, the album may be influenced by Ditto's solo EP, on which she collaborated with Simian Mobile Disco....full text
Gossip Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Would you have