By comparison, Gossip’s second album for major label Sony Music, A Joyful Noise, is a less rocking album than their debut Music for Men.
The synths get a heavier hand this time around, and the guitar work of Brace Paine is more embellishment than driving force. The production is slicker, perhaps even watered down, and Beth Ditto’s usually fiery performance turns darker.
But it’s the album I like more.
Part of my resistence to Music for Men was the stark contrast to Standing in the Way of Control. Gossip was already transforming from a garage band trio to the current incarnation of dance band, and Standing in the Way of Control was the pivot, an album that dipped more than a foot into the new sound while retaining most of the old.
With A Joyful Noise, the transformation is complete, and it bears little or no resemblance to what came before. And that makes it easier to evaluate on its own terms.
And the songs on A Joyful Noise are far catchier.
“Move in the Right Direction” is as much an affirmation of the band’s creative direction as it is a dance floor anthem. Gay bars would do well to jump on remixes of this track.
“Get a Job” stakes the same lyrical terrain as Björk’s “Army of Me” with a bit more funk.
Gossip really knows how to hit a chorus, as evidenced on “Casualties of War”, “Involved” and “Get Lost”
For a dose of the old band, “Love in a Foreign Place” recalls the fire of the pre-major label days without indulging in nostalgia.
Folks who liked the rock sound of Music for Men will probably be disappointed by the full embrace of dance on A Joyful Noise. But listen beyond the surface, and the these tunes sink in easily.