Originally formed by vocalist Beth Ditto, guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Billie in 1999 in Olympia, Washington, Gossip is a hybrid of soul, gospel, rock, funk, disco, punk, passion and rebellion. This three piece from Portland, Oregon first garnered attention in the UK with the release of the breakthrough album Standing In The Way Of Control in 2006. The band is led by the inimitable Beth Ditto – larger than life, forthright, rebel rousing and infectious. Beth's vocals have been compared to such legends as Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner although her and the band's sound is uniquely their own. Recorded at the historic Shrangri La Studios in Malibu, Music For Men completely captures Beth Ditto’s powerful vocals and the Gossips fiery sound. Beth Ditto continues to pick up accolades across the globe, from topping the NME annual cool list to becoming an unsuspecting fashion icon landing major magazine covers around the world.
Music For Men is produced by multi Grammy Award-winner Rick Rubin.
Gossip's latest album is set to reinforce the band's reputation as a fierce rock 'n' roll trio and improve Beth Ditto's already respected standing as a killer frontwoman.
More importantly for the band, Music For Men will finally persuade critics that they're capable of more than one terrific single.
Brilliant gay rights anthem Standing In The Way Of Control has left a long shadow, but with legendarily reductive producer Rick Rubin at the helm the killer tunes occur far more frequently on this fourth album than they have before.
After a killer mood-setting start with Dimestore Diamond's sleazy bass wobble and Beth's petulantly seductive croon, this record is a defiant, solidly entertaining work.
Ditto is a proud, smartly mischievous personality and in a fair world these songs, which seem a clear extension of her character, would make Gossip far more feted.
Particular stand-outs on MFM include moments such as when a sharp, staccato Queens Of The Stone Age sharp, staccato riff is channelled effectively by guitarist Bruce Paine for the scathing 8th Wonder and the incongruous Love Long Distance.
The latter tempers St Etienne/Pet Shop Boys piano riffage with a disco beat and synths, while Ditto has never sounded cooler than when she semi-quotes Marvin Gaye with the knowing line, ''I heard it through the bassline that much longer would you be my baby''. On this evidence Gossip could easily make an album of old-skool house anthems.
Men In Love is another hit-in-waiting built more for the dancefloor than the moshpit which shows the band's glitterball tendencies are sincere. Hannah Billie supplies a terrific beat while Paine's riffs comprise a few simple notes. It's not complex but the supple groove is massively satisfying.
In lesser production hands Music For Men could have left the band sounding like New Young Pony Club copyists. But Rubin has helped guide Ditto and Co to territory where the dance elements of the album never sound shoehorned in, while retaining their punk bite. --Lou Thomas
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