jakub | March 20, 2024

Gossip – ‘Real Power’ review: a mature, soulful return

Though now inextricably linked to an era of music known for its colourful joie de vivre, Gossip always stood out as especially raucous. Hailing from the fertile arts scene of Olympia, Washington, their wild, charismatic dance-rock exploded into the zeitgeist with 2006’s ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ and its indie disco classic title track. Two full-lengths (2009’s ‘Music for Men’ and 2012’s ‘A Joyful Noise’) followed, in which the powerhouse trio experimented with more expansive pop arrangements before splitting in 2016.

‘Real Power’ is Gossip’s first release since reuniting in 2019. A focused and polished collection, these 11 tracks find the band continuing a career-long trajectory of shaving down their roughest edges. A “celebration of creative expression”, according to force-of-nature frontwoman Beth Ditto, Gossip’s sixth studio effort sees the trio bend into various new shapes that sharply reframe a host of the band’s familiar tropes.

Recorded with Rick Rubin at his home studio in Hawaii, ‘Real Power’’s production reflects Rubin’s trademark precise and minimal aesthetic vision. Not a note feels out of place, in stark contrast to much of Gossip’s early work, which, though similarly pared-down, was notable for its rawness. Punctured by a simple three-note guitar melody, ‘Crazy Again’ is gleaming and intensely linear, while ‘Turn The Card Slowly’ follows a similar straight-line logic, bottling its explosiveness until one controlled moment near its end.

‘Real Power’’s controlled tone is epitomised by Ditto’s vocal performance. There’s a handful of party anthems (‘Act Of God’, ‘Give It Up For Love’) on which she lets rip; however, across most of ‘Real Power’, her powerful voice is impressively restrained. For example, the disco-pop track ‘Edge of the Sun’ features ultra-catchy melodies on which you would expect Ditto to hit frequency–peaking volumes. Instead, she opts to soulfully croon its earworm chorus and the track ends up all the more emotionally potent for it.

Gossip have never lacked heart, but on ‘Real Power’, they seem to have realised that (comparably) still waters can also run deep. The precisely euphoric music pairs elegantly with some pared-down, open-hearted lyrics, like the aforementioned ‘Edge of the Sun’ and its “I just want to be with you” chorus, or‘  Light It Up’s “watching the light as it’s dancing on you” imagery. A joyous and compassionate return, ‘Real Power’ proves that Gossip’s clear-headed maturity has ensured they achieve its titular sentiment.


Gossip Real Power

  • Record label: Columbia Records
  • Release date: March 22, 2024

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