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A Joyful Noise
American indie trio continue to stand still
Dave Hanratty, 24 May 2012
‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ seems an awful long time ago now. In the hazy summer of 2006, the track made for a welcome bolt from the blue, announcing Gossip (then sporting the definite article) and frontwoman Beth Ditto as the new champions of indie cool. While Ditto made a name for herself as a counter-culture icon of sorts, the band have been treading water since their explosion.
Truth be told, A Joyful Noise finds a band still caught in the shadow of their monster breakthrough. The presence of Xenomania’s Brian Higgins in the production seat brings the expected polish, and Ditto’s voice is an extraordinary instrument, but no amount of glamour can disguise leaden songwriting. Lead single ‘Perfect World’ is cute but no more, while ‘Get A Job’ seems oddly lazy and derivative. Elsewhere, ‘Move In The Right Direction’ proves a misstep, unless you happen to be clamouring for a dose of NYC disco throwback grooves. Curiously, given their reputation for being bold and brash, it’s a much more low-key Gossip number that finally connects. On ‘Casualties Of War’, Ditto shines in the role of a mid-‘80s Madonna, elevating a simple arrangement through subtle tones and genuine soul. It’s a beautiful moment, one that the rest of A Joyful Noise simply cannot measure up to.