Album Review :: Gossip – Music For Men

Gossip have always had the reputation of being a fierce rock trio with an amazing front woman in Beth Ditto yet have also been accused of being one trick ponies, in reference to their most successful song to date; Standing in the way of Control. However this album holds much promise of proving the critics wrong and demonstrating that Gossip can produce catchy, unique, dance-floor classics.

The cute, bass-dominant opener,’ Dimestore Diamond’, is a subtle introduction to the rest of the album. Ditto’s voice slithers over a repetitive but powerful bass riff, the synth effects and light drums compliment the bass/voice duo perfectly. A simple but effective opener.

The 2nd track on the album is the total anthem that is ‘Heavy Cross’.  This track is heavy on the drums and has apparent echoes of their former tracks, yet is still new and different. Ditto manages to infuse punk attitude and scratchy, powerful vocals with subtle refrains and indie charm. With subtle nods towards opinions on sexuality, Ditto has never been one to shy away from her strong opinions and outspoken views, whilst still retaining a sense of humour.

‘Love Long Distance’ is another stand-out track on the album. With a definite disco vibe, emphasised by the piano and toe-tapping drum beat, Ditto sings about how a love-affair over the Atlantic is testing her patience. Cleverly changing the quote “I heard it through the Grapevine” to “I heard it through the bassline”, this song screams a witty, modern take on love, perfectly communicated by the diva, Ditto.

‘Pop Goes The World’,  is full of witty lyrics and catchy vocal refrains, and the music only compliments this. The intriguing percussion, upon first listen, dominates the track. After a few listens, both the guitar riff and Ditto’s voice come into their own and lay their individual stamp on the song. With a catchy chorus, this song is a cool track on the album and perhaps one of the dark horses, surrounded by stronger tracks.

Some critics have argued that the album whimpers out during the 2nd half; I would beg to differ and suggest it mellows, rather than weakens. The album is full of peaks and troughs, not in terms of quality or strength, rather in tone. There are real differences between the disco stomp of ‘Heavy Cross’ and ‘Love Long Distance’ compared to the sluggish but varied ‘Four Letter Word’ and the clearly punk influenced ‘Spare me from the Mold’, all differences can be appreciated and enjoyed without calling any of them “fillers”. Few of the songs have real meaning or depth in terms of lyrics but are suitable to varied moods. You could easily play this album at a house-party or whilst getting ready for a night clubbing, however it could just as easily be played on a lazy Sunday afternoon or whilst chilling with friends.

A common theme throughout this album is undoubtedly the ever effervescent vocals. Guitar riffs, basslines and great drum-playing only compliment this and help thrust Gossip into the limelight as real artists and musicians. The three year break between albums was obviously wisely spent, after being spotted by Rick Rubin, the notorious producer who worked with Johnny Cash and Metallica, Gossip tightened the screws and thought out a well-produced album with professional and experienced influences.

Are Gossip punk? Glorified Disco? One Hit Wonders? I doubt they care and neither will most of the fans of ‘Music for Men’. Whatever they are, this album is genius and a genuine statement; a fingers-up , if you will, at the music industry “moguls” who accused them of being one trick ponies. [Jodie]

Gossip’s Official Myspace can be found here: http://myspace.com/gossipband

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