A Joyful Noise CD
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A Joyful Noise
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Ever-evolving and perpetually defying convention, Gossip are back with their fifth studio album, A Joyful Noise, produced by pop genius Brian Higgins (Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys, Girls Aloud). A blend of soul, gospel, rock, funk, disco, punk, passion and rebellion, Gossip is comprised of vocalist Beth Ditto, guitarist Nathan Howdeshell, and drummer Hannah Blilie. Originally formed in Olympia, Washington in 1999, Gossip first garnered attention with the release of their 2006 breakthrough album Standing In the Way of Control. Recorded in both Xenomania, Higgins’ studio in England, and KBC Studios in Portland, Oregon, A Joyful Noise stays true to Gossip’s trademark brash and unapologetic nature--that is, as true as possible for a band that is constantly reinventing itself and pushing boundaries. Working with Higgins, Gossip sought to create their own brand of pop.
Anyone shocked by the advanced commercial bent of Gossip’s fifth album should refer to the Washington trio’s 2006 breakthrough LP Standing in the Way of Control – track four, Coal to Diamonds, is a soul ballad not a zillion miles from Cyndi Lauper or Stevie Nicks. Or how 2009’s Music for Men offset its serrated, sinewy tendencies with house-y piano. Despite the band’s stereotypically defined riot grrrl origins and Beth Ditto’s stereotypically defined ‘sassy’ reputation, Gossip have were never truly hardcore or confrontational, despite the homo-core politics of …Control’s brilliant title-track. But the way the opening salvos of A Joyful Noise share a spiritual DNA with Madonna is still a real eye-opener.
That Gossip should be vilified for this shift depends on your own hard-line hardcore beliefs, and if you like to host disco vinyl bonfire parties. Or your view of its producer, Brian ‘Xenomania’ Higgins, whose CV includes Girls Aloud and The Saturdays. Higgins is no vulgar Stock Aitken Waterman factory line, and there’s a gorgeous swish to his dovetailing synths and syncopated drum pumps; though the way he routinely deploys guitars is surely not what Gossip’s Nathan Howdeshell was put on this earth for. Under Higgins’ guidance, Gossip a less a band, more a Pro-Tooled route one to the chart summit, albeit a route one with Beth Ditto at the front.
Ditto’s emotion-soaked vocals are the album’s true saving graces. Her already established charisma is far too strong for Higgins to even attempt a ‘Girls Aloud’ – she already is a Girl Aloud, who apparently only listened to ABBA for a full year while making this album. Of those Madonna-esque intros, Melody Emergency has a bass synth/guitar heft ("additional production" by Gossip might mean they added some musical weight after the Higgins sessions) and lead single Perfect World is gleaming and urgent. Get a Job even survives its awkward semi-rap intro (not much ABBA here, Beth) for something stealthy and anthemic.
But they can’t keep it up. Naming a track Move in the Right Direction invites trouble, especially if it encapsulates the album’s Achilles’ heel, of songs seemingly born of a commercial will rather than a real need. A mid-album lull is saved by Horns’ funky grit and, yes, horns, and I Won’t Play’s vulnerable core. You could argue that A Joyful Noise is the album Madonna should be brave enough to make. But it might also be the case that it’s the album that Gossip should have been brave enough not to.
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Top customer reviews
distinctly odd choice for the producer of Gossip's fifth album release.
Hardcore fans may be disappointed that most of the raw edges that we
have come to know and admire have been given a new shiny makeover
but with Beth Ditto at the helm 'A Joyful Noise' still warrants our
love and attention. Truth-be-told Ms Ditto does sound a tad reined-in
at times (the dark disco anthem 'Perfect World' is perhaps the most
obvious example - she really doesn't need THAT much reverb to put
the ball into the back of the net!) and guitarist Nathan Howdeshell
is relegated to a far less prominent position than he deserves but
overall the album still delivers a few strong offerings. 'Involved' is
a cracking song which places the voice well-forward in the mix where
it rightly belongs and once it gets going 'Horns' packs quite a punch
but numbers such as 'Get Lost' and 'Move In The Right Direction' are
decidedly lacklustre. Even a potential winner like penultimate track
'I Won't Play' is marred by unnecessary sparkly synth decorations.
When all's said and done a little bit of Beth Ditto is certainly better than
none at all but next time around the band might do well to re-examine
and re-discover the rough-and-ready qualities which made them so special.
When they released 'Music For Men' I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason I always anticipate future albums being... not as great.
I had the same feeling with this release until I heard it. It did take a few listens to get into properly but it is definitely the Gossip on form. I wouldn't recommend listening once or twice then making your mind up then. Good music takes a little while to warm to.
It's a cleaner, more "dancier" record than their previous stuff but fits nicely into their collection. Don't confuse that with club/dance music, althought some tracks do have a slight inkling of that, but imagine the middle ground between Beth's solo EP (which is also great!) and Gossip's work as a group. It's a nice progression.
There's tracks such as "Get A Job" and "Move In The Right Direction" which have a more dancier, upbeat feel to them and then more mellow tracks such as "Casualties Of War" and "Into The Wild".
What I like about this record - and Gossip in general - is that it's a different sound to their previous albums, but still obviously an album from them. Bands get boring sticking to the same tried and tested sound and I am glad Gossip don't do that.
It's not as raw as their previous stuff, but this seems to be a trend with a lot of bands; the longer their in the business, the cleaner their sound (an example which springs to mind is Yeah Yeah Yeahs who started out rough and ready but their last album was clean, crisp... but still great).
The lead single, "Perfect World" and "Love In A Foreign Place" are stand out tracks for me. As usual, Beth is on top form.
It's definitely a record which I can safely put on repeat without getting bored.
The band is pretty cool too....and here they have hooked up with Mark Ronson and Brian Higgins (Xenomania) to make one heck of a psychadelic/melancholy record....this is as "pop" predominantly they have ever gone...but not in a typical sell out way...if they did i imagine gueta, redone and dr luke would have been employed....but not here...this album is rooted in their traditional staple in the indie market...but combining this retro dance aspect...something in production you would imagine Prince orgasming over in the late 80s...or Madonna preaching across well....each era of her phenomenal career....and even Bowie style Punky hooks in pace and rhythm....it truly is a blend of everything great in Pop music put to the traditional Ditto staple.
Something to please fans since 99 and win some new fans over to explore their catalogue.
There are some powerful anthemic songs here, some very sentimental moments, touching heartbreaking recordings, the damn right experimental and of course the happy go lucky stuff....but there is not a single "dud" song to be found within A Joyful Noise...it is by far their best album, one of the best albums of 2012...and a definitive favourite.
Must definitely check this out....Beth Ditto is in control of the summer here. 10/10
so Gossip, do continue in this direction, and make more music. I will purchase all.
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Most recent customer reviews
Cool album. Best one by Gossip yet, great vocals from B.D. and strong electro sounds.
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