Release Date: Oct 6, 2009
Record label: Columbia
The Gossip close Music for Men with a song called "Spare Me from the Mold," but Beth Ditto, Nathan Paine, and Hannah Billie could never be accused of conforming. They were still a relatively underground group when Standing in the Way of Control's passionate mix of punk, soul, and disco became their breakthrough -- and they sounded so confident on it, it felt like the mainstream was coming to them rather than vice versa. They've got their own piece of the pop (and pop culture) mainstream now, and Music for Men feels aboveground in the best possible way.
Beth Ditto has one of the most distinct voices in rock music. The band's brand is powered by her soulful wail, but their interesting post-punk guitars and thumping disco rhythms are now more polished than ever and just as catchy here as on any of their previous offerings. [rssbreak] First single Heavy Cross isn't the best of the bunch. (You can sing Standing In The Way Of Control over the intro.) Best is the synth-based closer Four Letter Word, which is crying out for a blog-burning remix.
Superproducer Rick Rubin adds some more-cowbell boogie to the blues-punk power trio’s major-label debut, Music for Men, though the band’s rough-diamond magnetism loses some of its pull in the process. B.
Thank heavens for Beth Ditto. In a world of manufactured, auto-tuned pop stars and wispy-voiced indie-chanteuse pinups it's nice to see an honest-to-god female rock star who is provocative, strong, and sexy with the muscular vocal chops to match. Since the release of 2005's Standing in the Way of Control, Ditto has become a superstar in the UK, hobnobbing with Karl Lagerfeld and Kate Moss and proudly splashing her naked body across the covers of British magazines.
Gossip is blessed with possibly the strongest, most easily identified and soulful female singer in current rock music. Beth Ditto's tremulous voice ranges in tone from raging shouts to melodic cooing, and she oozes confidence, through her lyrics and her performance. It seems as if she should belong to some amazing, kick-ass band that rules over the kingdom of rock with a benevolent hand, but Gossip does not truly have a Page to her Plant.
What would Beth Ditto do? Rather: what can't she do? So far she has escaped the Bible Belt hometown that inspired Footloose; turned teen entrepreneur while working in a mall bakery - operating a covert free-muffins-for-shoes scheme with the shop next door; and subverted society's prejudice to become a fashion and music icon (and we know how resistant those two professions can be to flamboyant homosexuals who look different). Likable and articulate, Ditto now occupies a similar place to Charming Man-era Morrissey: a journalist's delight whose media coverage is in inverse proportion to her hit tally. Standing in the Way of Control - or, at least, Soulwax's remix, which is what everyone knows - is always thrilling.
Is there a sorrier sight in rock music than the alt-rock band that becomes known for one huge, unrepeatable hit? Not even the former X Factor finalist belting it out to rows of empty seats in the Auchenlarie Holiday Park cuts such a pitiful figure: at least they knew that the spotlight was bound to swiftly shift elsewhere. The indie band, on the other hand, once had dreams involving influence and respect and journalists demanding to know their thoughts. Then the hit happened.
Music for Men, is not, whatever the hype may suggest, the second album from Gossip – although, in the wake of Standing in the Way of Control’s massive success, it might as well be. In fact, Music for Men is the band’s fourth studio album and the culmination of nearly a decade of musical experimentation. Originally a small-time Washington-via-Arkansas punk band, Gossip hit it big with their last album, but it looks as though the hype has taken its toll.
There’s more than a soupcon of irony to the fact that prior to the release of Music For Men, The Gossip were signatories to the DIY powerhouse that is Kill Rock Stars. Because let’s be honest here: Beth Ditto and co didn’t exactly stumble into the limelight by accident. The average military campaign is shorter than the promotional one waged for the album Standing In The Way Of Control, with the agit-disco title track receiving its initial release at the tail end of 2005 and finally cracking the top ten in 2007.
GOSSIP“Music for Men”(Columbia) A short list of tweaks turns Gossip into a pop band on its album “Music for Men.” Concentrate a little more on melody. Round off some guitar distortion. Follow through on the dance beats of the 2006 studio album “Standing in the Way of Control.” And add ….