Album Review

Gossip - Real Power

Getting older with heart and empathy? That sounds like real power to us.

Gossip - Real Power

In comparatively progressive 2024, it’s hard to overstate the sledgehammer effect that Gossip and their firebrand frontwoman Beth Ditto caused when their insatiable, unignorable hit ‘Standing In The Way of Control’ elevated the Arkansas trio from cult concern to mainstream infiltrators back in 2006. A figurehead for both queer representation and body positivity, Gossip launched a stick of punk dynamite into the Skins-like indie sleaze landscape (the song, ironically, also soundtracking the series) and cemented its creators as disruptors of the most hook-laden and fabulously fun kind.

Any Gossip reunion, then, would be one to welcome with open arms. But there’s the sense with ‘Real Power’ that the trio have returned 12 years since their last record (2012’s ‘A Joyful Noise’) with something necessary and new to say. Where their breakthrough hits fizzed with dancefloor-directed defiance and righteous fury, ‘Real Power’ has a tenderness to its rallying that comes with maturity and realising that sometimes it’s more effective to use a kiss than a fist. Even its title track, which puts Ditto’s inimitably gutsy, raw vocal to its full use, is a clarion call to collective activism that puts hope and positivity at the fore.

On ‘Real Power’’s more upbeat moments, Gossip tend towards the disco rather than the sweaty party pit. Opener ‘Act of God’ splashes Motown-like vocals with ‘70s basslines; ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ is slinky and sultry in ways that mirror its lovestruck lyrics, while ‘Give It Up For Love’ could be a Nile Rodgers co-write for all its funky strutting. Generally, however, ‘Real Power’ sits around the mid-tempo rather than going hell for leather as they may have done in younger years. Far from a slip into the middle of the road however, they find new ways to make it interesting - ‘Edge of the Sun’ utilises breathy backing vocals in ways that feel fresh for the band, while ‘Turn The Card Slowly’’s guitars sound like they’ve been listening to The xx’s atmospheric debut for cues.

If ‘Real Power’ necessarily has a steadiness and maturity to its sound, it’s not for want of emotion or innovation. Getting older with heart and empathy? That sounds like real power to us.

Tags: Gossip, Reviews, Album Reviews

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