The Gossip embrace their proud pop-hood in Music for Men.
Gossip’s fourth record delivers what loyal fans might expect: sparse guitar, a driving dance beat, and Beth Ditto’s powerhouse pipes. But the title, Music for Men, could quite possibly reference the band’s growing mainstream appeal. While previously, Ditto left each track dripping with rich soul and angst, she now unleashes a disco-diva cool, and the change of pace only intensifies her outbursts. Music for Men is more polished than prior efforts as well, marking the Gossip’s move to Columbia Records and their collaboration with megaproducer Rick Rubin, famed for his bare, stripped-down production style. The soon-to-be-omnipresent single “Heavy Cross” has all the makings of a pop hit. It opens with an eerie, palm-muted guitar and mysterious keys before Ditto’s near-rabid voice rips the song to shreds with the uncontrollable scream, “I checked you!” Requisite disco beats follow, resolving the tension into a sweaty explosion of energy. We dare you to passively listen to this track; it’s like a gauntlet from the band that says, “Dance, or die.”