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Gossip: ‘Real Power’ review

The Arkansas band’s sixth effort is clean and accomplished while also lacking that killer touch.

Gossip are often defined by one song. In 2006, the Arkansas band’s queer anthem ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ cut through the indie sleaze scene with as much groove and dancefloor ambition as their contemporaries. Before long, singer Beth Ditto was heralded as an LGBTQ icon and they achieved a breakthrough album at the third time of asking.

Two albums followed before they called it quits, or so we thought. Twelve years since last record A Joyful Noise, Gossip are back with their sixth studio album, Real Power, working again with legendary producer Rick Rubin in the process.

A lot has happened to the band since they last recorded together – each member turned 40, they suffered loss and two went through divorces. Real Power takes these experiences for a collection of slick, disco-infused tunes that are fun and heartfelt, yet, at times, lack the pizzazz to stand it out amongst their discography.

There’s a fair bit to like, though. ‘Crazy Again’ pulls on the heartstrings for a tender-riffed gut puncher and the pensive ‘Turn the Card Slowly’ features lovely Foals-esque, sun-kissed guitars. They continue the dreamy vibe on the surf-rock inspired ‘Tough’, beautifully complimented by Ditto’s melancholic vocal delivery.

Unfortunately, not everything lands. There’s admirable empowering intent on ‘Real Power’, but the second half lyrical repetitiveness runs the track out of steam. Later, ‘Peace and Quiet’ ventures into cliched terrain and departs the record on a damp squib.

Meanwhile, when they attempt to follow their dancefloor-friendly template they often often fall into banal territory. Not everytime, thankfully. ‘Give It Up For Love’ stands against the grain with its Nile Rodgers inspired guitar strumming and infectious disco-funk for a punchy second half highlight.

Real Power is solid enough, sounding both clean and accomplished. But that’s also the problem, the lack of edge and grit means we’re often missing that killer touch to rival their breakthrough record.


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