It’s tough to totally appreciate the brassy strut of The Gossip on a shiny compact disc: while the songs on their third recorded set are confident, compositionally astute and capable of slotting into any indie-disco DJ’s mid-set surge towards an electric peak, they more often than not sound like the sum of parts, rather than the frenzied party jams deployed by the band at their scintillating live shows.
Admittedly, the core components that make up these ten easy pieces are excellent – vocalist Beth Ditto is unmatched so far as female singers of these musical inclinations go, her deep growls and banshee shrieks as unique in this field as Kate Bush’s in the realm of pop – but a sense of familiarity does wash over, unsettlingly, all of four or five numbers in. It never manifests in a way so solid as to breed the dreaded contempt (or worse, ignorance or indifference), but even at 36 minutes long Standing In The Way Of Control feels a little too long. Highlights sparkle like diamonds embedded in a band of stained copper: ‘Eyes Open’ is a fantastically thumping and soulful effort, new drummer Hannah Blilie’s muscular beats sure to set any toe a tapping, and the wandering bass rhythm of ‘Listen Up!’ is similarly joint-popping. The penultimate ‘Keeping You Alive’ also shines, handclaps and all, after the preceding comparative dreariness of ‘Holy Water’. That’s not to say that any one of these songs is particularly poor, but rather that a good number blend rather too seamlessly into each other.
In terms of consistency and coherency, Standing In The Way Of Control is a fine album – the material is well executed and the arrangements are crisply recorded. But who really wants that from The Gossip? Folk wanna be dancing out of their chairs, be they taking five on the edges of a club or on the top deck of a bus, and this doesn’t wholly deliver. Still, aficionados already know that these songs will take on a whole other life when this trio deliver them in the flesh to a sweaty audience.
6Mike Diver's Score