Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Gossip: Music for Men (Music with a Twist/Columbia)
release: June 23, 2009 (digital)
style: rock 'n roll, post post-punk, dance-rock
similar: Peaches, Le Tigre, Erase Errata, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
[rating: ****] We don't need to get into a heated discussion about Beth Ditto's unabashed characteristics right now (i'm pro-Beth Ditto, in case you didn't figure that out). That's a debate we can check at the door. This is about Music for Men, where the Gossip has had its rough edges smoothed by producer Rick Rubin and its recording supporting by Sony Columbia, who probably saw dollar signs flashing when Ditto was on the cover of a popular celebrity tabloid. Regardless of that type of publicity, the Gossip was ready to take it to the next level and has done so by focusing more on adept songwriting and less on rawness. In fact, Ditto's vocals are a welcome improvement without compromising her attitude and sincerity. Although first single "Heavy Cross" could be a polished re-doing of "Standing in the Way of Control," there is much to like on this mostly dance-ready album which uses synth sparingly yet effectively. This includes "Love and Let Love" and "Four Letter Word," where Ditto offers the line "love is a four letter word that should never be heard." "Love Long Distance" features the drama of a long distance relationship carried by electric piano. Music is love-heavy, though don't count out the peppy punk of "Spare Me from the Mold" and "Pop Goes the World" (not the song by Men Without Hats), the latter of which calls for social action while still having fun. Listen up! -Kenyon

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