‘Music For Men’ | Gossip
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
For fans of: Peaches, Ting Tings
Tracks to download: ‘Vertical Rhythm,’ ‘Love and Let Love,’ ‘2012’
If you read PerezHilton.com, then you have probably heard of the band Gossip, formerly known as “The” Gossip. The band, fronted by singer Beth Ditto, is a favorite of the site’s creator and is therefore frequently featured on the Web site. The band’s new album, “Music for Men,” with its awesome ’80s-tinged music, shows why the band is one of his favorites, though it still has room for improvement.
Much of “Music for Men” sounds like it has been imported from the punk era in the ’80s. The heavy bass, simple drum beats and twinkling synthesizer-piano account for this, especially in songs like “Love Long Distance.” The heavy synthesizer in this song gives it a strong funky ’80s vibe, while Ditto’s singing also fits the music of that decade. It is fun and danceable, as is a lot of this album. “Heavy Cross” and “Men in Love” would also easily fit into the same genre of music.
The latter song (“Men in Love”) is certainly chock full of ’80s fun, but it doesn’t fully deliver the way other songs on the album do. On the song’s breakdown, Ditto restrains her voice so that it sounds weak and breathy, making her sound like she can’t sing. This is a problem throughout the album. While Ditto’s voice shines on some songs, on others its punk quality sounds strained and screechy. On “Spare Me from the Mold,” Ditto screams over the cacophonous punk track. Although this may fit into their intended genre, her “hut, hut, hut, hut”s are just grating to the ears. The song is the worst on “Music for Men.”
“Vertical Rhythm,” on the other hand, is clearly one of the best of the album. For the verses, Ditto sings soulfully over sparse guitar picking and drums. In the chorus, the song adds more instruments, but the verses are what really make this song interesting. Her punk voice sounds almost haunting over the instrumental track, and she emits a great “who cares” attitude when singing about her failed relationship. “2012” is another song on the album that is fairly simple but undeniably catchy. It is a bit more punk than some of the other songs on the album, for which Ditto strains her voice a little, but with success on this song. Although it is unclear what the song has to do with 2012, its lyrics are clever nonetheless.
While many of the songs on “Music for Men” are fun and danceable, Gossip makes sure to add in some that are slower and more relaxed. With its bluesy bass and strutting vibe, the album’s first track, “Dimestore Diamond,” is one such example. “Love and Let Love,” while a little faster, still has a chilled-out feel to the music, which can probably be attributed to its funky bass line. Although Ditto does wail on this song, she controls her voice in such a way that it fits in with the song and actually sounds good.
Gossip’s “Music for Men” is by no means perfect. It is boring in some parts (see “For Keeps”) and cacophonous in others (“Spare Me from the Mold”), so why does it deserve so much attention? No, it’s not great, but Gossip is bringing something to the industry that no one else is really doing: The band is bringing back the ’80s with funky basses and wild synthesizers.