Naming a track ‘Move in the Right Direction’ invites criticism as Gossip’s new album A Joyful Noise barely strays from the strong commercial bent of their previous records (see their super-catchy, pop suffused album Standing in the Way of Control for reference). That was released way back in 2006; fast-forward to 2012 and Gossip’s musical range remains almost completely unchanged from what it was then.
Don’t get me wrong, A Joyful Noise is a fun, upbeat, easy listen. It’s not radical in its lyrical themes, nor is it an evolution from their previous work, but then again this formula has always bought Gossip success. Beth Ditto’s voice is passionate and powerful; her reputation as a sassy-songstress kept intact with the release of this album – the single ‘Perfect World’ a particular showcase of her vocal talent. Otherwise, album highlights include the fabulously bass-heavy ‘Melody Emergency’ and the funky track ‘Horns’, with its Seventies disco pop topped off rather aptly with horns.
Ideally, it would have been great to see Gossip stretch themselves with a bit of musical experimentation, but it seems the band were either motivated purely by commercial rather than artistic necessities, or they were simply not brave enough to try something more daring. The ability to musically evolve is the difference between a good and a great band and unfortunately Gossip remains firmly in the former category whilst always retaining the potential for so much more.