Gossip – review

XOYO, London

Beth Ditto has always radiated star quality but her band have not shone so brightly. They appeared poised for world domination when they emerged in 2006 with disco-punk indie anthem Standing in the Way of Control, but the attitude-laden US trio have since trod water.

It was presumably this lack of a major breakthrough that led Gossip (who have dropped their definite article) to record a new, fifth album, A Joyful Noise, with Midas-touch pop producers Xenomania. The result is a collection of glistening, lustrous electro-pop numbers, the majority of which would fit seamlessly on Madonna's MDNA album.

Their more hardcore followers may regard this crossing of the musical Rubicon as an act of heinous betrayal, but there has always been a groove to Gossip's music, and in this gig guitarist Nathan Howdeshell obliterates the album's ProTools sheen beneath spiky new-wave riffs. Melody Emergency, a pristine throb on record, transmutes live into a primal swamp-blues stomp.

Ditto's voice remains a thing of wonder, simultaneously tender and stentorian, and possessed of a ferocious range and power. Her charisma lifts even middling new single Perfect World, while she transforms into a kohl-streaked ball of righteous indignation for Get a Job, a barbed evisceration of an aging, scrounging trustafarian.

They encore, with troubling inevitability, with the frenetic Standing in the Way of Control before Ditto, reluctant to leave, stays behind to serenade her adoring disciples with a pitch-perfect a cappella take on The Greatest Love of All. Were Gossip able to generate music as consistently compelling as their charismatic leader, they would be unstoppable.


Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

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