"Guaranteed to win Gossip plenty of new fans."
Where Rick Rubin didn't quite succeed on Music For Men, Brian Higgins – who previously produced Girls Aloud and Sugababes amongst others – has managed to smooth the jagged edges to work up a glossy contemporary pop sound, which is simply A Joyful Noise.
Beth Ditto belts her vocals out over sly, grinding funk guitars and acidic synths on the album's anthemic opener Melody Emergency. It suggests that Gossip want to prove they have lost none of the urgency that caught our attention in the first place. Laden with radio-friendly hooks, the first single Perfect World is potentially chart-topping pop perfection and comes with a certain power that is absent from so much commercial pop fodder.
Ditto's transformation from riot girl to Madonna-esque pop diva was always inevitable. It was hinted at on her recent solo EP, but is much more gloriously realised with her band on this album. If being in a rock band was cramping Ditto's ample style, this album has given her the opportunity to blossom. When the tempo drops on ballads such as Casualties Of War, Ditto's voice expressively trembles with emotion in a way that wasn't possible on previous albums. The electro-disco strut of Love In A Foreign Place and the part Inner City, part Azari & III '90s house bump of Get Lost are instant classics that work the floor. Guaranteed to win Gossip plenty of new fans.
This week's new sets include the return of UK's Foals plus local acts Last Dinosaurs, The Snowdroppers and The Paper Kites.