The Gossip: A Joyful Noise
The Gossip are perhaps best known for Beth Ditto, a frontwoman whose voice is just as strong and bold as her personality and style. The band has never shied away from layering Ditto’s disco diva/soul voice with dance and post-punk music. I have always thought of The Gossip as an innovative group, which is why I find A Joyful Noise so perplexing. It’s simply a solid pop record.
Part of this probably lies in the choice of producers. Brian Higgins has worked with some of the biggest pop acts in the UK, including Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, and Sugababes. Rather than encourage The Gossip to explore their pop influences, he seems to have thrown them into the deep end, to varying results. However, given the writing credits, the band members themselves need to regroup and reassess the direction they’ve taken.
When the dance influences work, they really are fantastic. Opener “Melody Emergency” has enough meat on the lyrics to really stick with you. “Horns” is definitely all about the instrumentation, with cowbell, throbbing bass, and yes, horns evoking an old school rock feel that Freddie Mercury would approve of. “I Won’t Play” reflects a glimmer of the sound that made The Gossip famous, and I wish they would have done more of that.
But for as much success, there’s meandering too far into the pop world. “Get a Job” belongs on a dance floor without remixing, but hearing a successful singer say (rather than sing), “I’d love to stay and party / but I’ve got to go to work” just feels disingenuous. “Move in the Right Direction” is just too noisy and masks the fact that this is a band. Next time The Gossip would do better to scale back to what a trio can handle.