Album: A Joyful Noise
Label: Columbia Records
Years ago, I heard a song in which the singer crooned about a person who was “swimming in the sea of mediocrity”… and that swimmer might very well have been using copies of this album as flippers. Wow. What a disappointment. It’s heartbreaking when a group that shows such promise and forward-reaching momentum in its early days falls flat after the first lap is over. A Joyful Noise, the newest release by Gossip, hit me with about as much power and delight as a gobbet of lukewarm porridge plodding onto linoleum, and made me wonder whether this was in fact the same band whose music scratched its way down my spine and curled my toes just a few short years ago.
This entire album hauled me back to the late 70s/early 80s, where the last strains of disco merged cloyingly with poppy synth-rock, and sexually provocative femmes belted out their siren songs to the masses. The opening track, “Melody Emergency”, had a bit of a kick to it at first, but that petered out halfway through the song and made me wonder if Ms. Ditto had taken a couple of percs before recording, and they’d just kicked in. The rest of the CD just sort of …happened… and then it didn’t. I may have glanced up at some point during “Get lost”, but the rest of the tracks slubbered along without any interest or great notice from me.
The great thing about the disco femmes of bygone eras was that they were performing in defiance of the constraints of their time, and pushing new, fiery ideologies to the masses. They were powerhouses of GRRRRL-dom, and would just as soon take their stilettos off and stab you with them as they would dance in them ‘til dawn. If that sort of raw energy was what Gossip tried to evoke with this record, they fell off the stage.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not completely without use or merit. Fairly catchy and danceable, it’s a “good enough” album to listen to when strutting around town or grinding up against some random stranger at a club, when you have no intention of seeing them again after the inevitable bathroom blow job. That being said, the impotent vocals and flaccid lyrics would probably make that sort of sordid dalliance rather disheartening too. Best to dig out the old Kano records instead.
There is no backbone to this album. No spark, no… life. If A Joyful Noise is to be the soundtrack to your night out, then the theme for the evening will inevitably be a halfhearted yawn.