Beth Ditto and her motley crew, collectively known as Gossip have returned, Hooray! The group's energetic last album, Music for Men, seems like it was released an eternity ago (2009 in actuality) and with Ms Ditto releasing an EP in 2011 I was worried that that was the end of the trio, and solo stardom beckoned. But new single Perfect World means my prayers have been heard, and they return with their fifth album, A Joyful Noise, in May of 2012.
Ditching a prominent guitar lead for layers of ambient synths, the group's trademark acoustically spacious sound has been filled out somewhat, but not so much that its been lost entirely- for instance, the verses. They're still wearing their 80's influences on their musical sleeve, but now it seems to be slightly more pop than rock-orientated, no doubt influenced by producer, and one half of Xenomania and Girls Aloud producer, Brian Higgins. It fits with the continuing evolution of their sound, so it shouldn't shock fans too much, but something is missing.
Perfect World is a little too laid back for my liking, especially for a single that is supposed to herald Gossip's return, and it's missing that grit that the group usually come with. Also, nowhere in the song does vocalist Beth Ditto soulful tones really get a chance to let loose. It all sounds a little too restrained and controlled, missing that emotional abandonment and freedom her voice, and the band to be honest, usually bring. It's a big part of why I love the group, so it being missing has left me somewhat lukewarm to this offering. Perhaps it's a grower.