A Joyful Noise
Genre: Pop(Sony Music)
Reviewer: CHESTER CHIN
HOW does one react to songs in an album that don’t quite live up to its cheery title? There is a sense that the Olympia, Washington three-piece indie outfit Gossip is being cheekily ironic on its fifth studio album.
While there are a couple of jubilant offerings in the 11-track disc, nothing is ever quite as blithesome so as to warrant the title A Joyful Noise. But then again, when it comes to nomenclature, it sometimes is a matter of conjecture.
Perhaps the title alludes to the disco glitz musical influence that the record takes after. After all, sassy frontwoman Beth Ditto has admitted in an interview that she prepared for the album by listening to ABBA.
The direction here is a huge departure from 2009’s Music For Men. While their last studio album highlights the sounds of electro-punk, A Joyful Noise is more synthpop. And that could be largely attributed to production from British dance-pop maestro Brian Higgins of Xenomania fame.
Think Madonna and the 1980s and throw in a good measure of grit, and you’ll get what Gossip’s latest offering is all about.
The record opens with Melody Emergency, a deceitfully languid bass synth-heavy and guitar offering. The track is uncharacteristically minimalist, but maybe that’s because the focus is supposed to be on Ditto’s emotion-packed vocals.
Get A Job, with its quasi rap/chant opening, has a gloomy, anthemic chorus that manages to deliver the punches melodically but somehow flops in the lyrical department. “You never know how it’s gonna go/End up tomorrow you gotta try try try/ Girl you better get a job,” goes Ditto in the chorus.
On the bouncy Move In The Right Direction, the trio invites the notion of mainstream appeal with a fizzy number. With persistent synths and manic guitar, the song is a piece of gorgeous, playful and straightforward pop.
In a record with songs that almost always border on the forgettable, Move In The Right Direction provides a deft save for the band. Therein also lies the problem with A Joyful Noise.
The album relies too much on Higgins’ slinky production, to the point where the trio loses all its signature punk-ish flair in the blare of the over-polished synths.