Prior to recording, Ditto decided to spend a whole year listening to ABBA. While Gossip might not have donned coordinating jumpsuits, they have taken a certain je ne sais quoi from the Swedish four-piece, as well as other retro pop acts - though ‘A Joyful Noise’ is far more than just inoffensive mum music (no offence, Benny, Björn and co). It’s a bundle of danceable, soul laced power-pop, and there’s an irresistible hint of typically Beth Ditto-esque rebellion you just won’t find in Mamma Mia.
Album opener ‘Melody Emergency’ reminds us that Ditto has quite the lungs on her - as if we didn’t know that already. “You can’t deny the animal in you,” she belts, backed by some slinking percussion and 80s-flecked guitar that keeps the whole thing just that bit untameable. ‘Perfect World’ sees Ditto’s potent vocals taking centre-stage again, this time as a power-pop diva. While the lead single is far more polished, heaving slick production and radio-friendly hooks, it only serves to highlight the raw power that so many shiny pop acts lack.
‘Horns’ is another standout, with a loveable bass line that would make Stevie Wonder himself beam with joy. While Motown, disco and soul are the main driving forces, those magic guitars from the band’s debut are there lingering in the background. It’s very clear that this album is a nostalgia trip - but it still belongs firmly to Gossip. Where ‘A Joyful Noise’ really shines is when the group’s newfound command of seductive pop music is allowed to cavort with the deep-rooted rawness that made us pay attention right at the beginning. The result is a great album full of slightly haywire, unpretentious pop music.
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They’ll also play in Glasgow and Manchester around the previously-announced Somerset House date.
The group had split in 2016.