Friday 11 May 2012

Gossip - A Joyful Noise

Abba may not be the most obvious influence on Gossip, but vocalist Beth Ditto has confessed (in an interview with the Observer) to listening to their music solidly in the build up to 'A Joyful Noise' - the third album from the band.  Infatuated with the "zero rawness" of the Swedish pop band's work, she admits it's "not the music I usually listen to".  In fact, it's the very antithesis of Gossip's style.

And yet, 'A Joyful Noise' is as polished as you'd expect from the pop influence, and from producer Brian Higgins who previously worked with Kylie, Pet Shop Boys and Girls Aloud.  It's demonstrated by recent single Perfect World - for all its rock tendencies, it's laden with gloss, catchy hooks and a simple structure.  This is rock music geared for the charts.

Another major influence here is the electro of Ditto's solo work.  Traversing deeper into the album, the sound becomes increasingly electronic, as if following the band's shift in style.  Move In The Right Direction (a premonition?) is an early all out disco track, sounding more like Madonna than anything the band have done before.  Get Lost, meanwhile, is pure 90s funk disco.  Final track Love In A Foreign Place combines Kraftwerk-esque electronica with an infectious chorus, pushing the band into full-on rave territory.

But all the while, this is still unmistakably the sound of Gossip, albeit in popularised, accessible form.  Largely this comes from the constant of Ditto's vocal, as powerful as ever.  The band have consolidated their influences into a glossy pop package, the fuzzy guitars and throbbing basslines present throughout.  Get A Job may clip and sample the vocal and features a whomping synth bass, but the chorus is all out guitars.  Involved pairs the guitars with stabbing synth chords.  Lyrically the songs mainly address disappointment in love, but this has never been the band's strong suit and, here, the intriguing concoction of musical styles wins out.

They may have swapped their grit and rawness for pop gloss, but in the process Gossip have produced and album that certainly lives up to the title.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Perfect World
* Involved
* Love In A Foreign Place

Listen: 'A Joyful Noise' is released on May 14th - stream now exclusively on the Guardian website.

Watch: Gossip are touring Europe over the coming months.