It’s one thing to be an indie sensation and another thing to be pop superstars, few people experience both, but the pop-rock band Gossip will soon be among those people.
The three-piece former indie rock band is back after its 2006 indie success, “Standing in The way of Control.” No one is standing in their way now with the major label debut, “Music For Men.”
The album starts off with a stomping drumbeat and slowly evolves into a slinky almost cabaret-style song with “Dimestore Diamond.” Then singer Beth Ditto chimes in with her soulful vocals and lyrics about a woman who disguises the fact that she’s poor by creating expensive looking outfits from a dime store.
The next track on the album, “Heavy Cross,” starts with a generic guitar riff but slowly evolves into a dance rock song that will get anyone out of their seat at a party. The lyrics are about the band’s reinvention and the friends that were there with them every step of the way.
Even though the first two tracks off the album are quite good, there is still no sign of Gossip’s signature aggressive punk style, which is what got them where they are. “8th Wonder” brings that style back, with drumbeats that could knock down walls, guitar riffs that could cut rock and powerful vocals that will tear the roof off of any concert hall.
Gossip does a full genre change with the next song “Love Long Distance,” a breakup song in the style of disco inferno with Ditto singing like Gloria Gaynor and, even quoting “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” with lines like ” I heard it through the bassline/ not much longer would you be my baby.”
For the next track, “Men in Love,” Gossip revisits their previous hit, “Standing In the Way of Control,” which was an anthem for every gay couple who wished they could get married.
The song starts by echoing Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” with the opening, “Shame, Shame, Shame,” which then evolves into the catchy chorus “Na, na, na, Men in love .With each other.”
“For Keeps” is an upbeat break-up, kiss-off song, which finds Ditto singing about a former lover who has grown bored with her and now she wants “something different, something new.”
Along the same lines, “Love and Let Love” talks about Ditto and another lover, except this time she is calling it quits in this relationship. “I have visions of you/but not with me/ this is the last time I love and let love.”
The next song “Four letter word,” the closest song to a ballad on this album, seems like a follow up to the previous two songs Ditto sings, ” I never want to see your face again,” and “Love is a four letter word that should never be heard,” over an inspired synthesizer and disco ball beat.
The musicianship is nothing less than flawless on this album, but there is one problem: the blaring sound tends to cause some distortion. But that seems to be a common problem with rock albums of this generation.
For a major label debut, this album covers all the bases, including catchy lyrics and good musicianship, but at times it seems like the music is taking a back seat to the larger-than-life front woman Ditto. While this is not truly a problem for fans of the band, it may be seen as Ditto selling out to the mainstream.
The final track on the album, “Pop Goes the World,” could be read as Gossip’s mission for the rest of 2009: “For once we’ll do what comes naturally/with no apology.”
“Music for Men” is the perfect foray into mainstream pop and it’s only a matter of time before the world is bowing at Gossip’s feet.