I am a badass. That’s right, don’t talk to me. I’m tough and dangerous. But don’t worry: it’s in that really cool way. My vices are endearing; in fact, they make you want to sleep with me. No, I don’t have a limp — this is how I walk. I’m cool. I’m cool…
The Gossip’s latest offering, Movement, will do that to you. This record makes me imagine that my tattoos are bigger, my gut is smaller and my girlfriend is sexier. It screams hot, thick summer nights and lusty, naughty things. The album, simply put, is overflowing with attitude. In news surely not surprising to fans of the bands’ previous work, most of this swagger flows directly from the pipes of 22-year-old frontwoman Beth Ditto.
Musically, Movement showcases a band really coming into their own. Huge vocals, simple drumming and a few snarling riffs. Done. Its beauty is in its simplicity. The ability to execute the essentials well enough to make them blend together seamlessly, thereby leaving enough room for that special little part to shine, whatever it may be, and push you above of the endless sea of competent musicians. For the Gossip, that little something is Beth and her blues-tinged melodies. While there are a few departures, some choppy riffs, off-time beats, etc., all told the bare instrumentation on Movement serves mainly as the foundation for Beth’s wails (albeit a very competently laid groundwork). Like other bass-free outfits, the Gossip’s guitar is dark and sludgy, more than making up for what may have been lost in terms of bone-rattling low-end, while the kick drum hits hard and runs deep. The production is slick, much more so than the almost live feel of Arkansas Heat, making the most of each component and giving the tiny trio from Olympia-via-Arkansas a gigantic sound.
So it’s true: the Gossip’s latest doesn’t change the face of music. But amidst our cute little retro-craze here, isn’t it at least refreshing to hear a band do it well? Movement might not have the jarring effect of the first full-length, That’s Not What I Heard, but chalk that one up to a changing musical landscape and a few other bass-less rockers with a penchent for “soul.” Make no mistake; this is a startling album. The lead track — a crushing number called “Nite” that sounds more like a call to arms than a call to the dance floor — clears that up right off the bat. Tracks like “No No No” and “Fire/Sign” pick up the pace and bring the stomping rock that’s become the band’s signature sound, while songs like the more measured “Yesterday’s News” offer up a more vulnerable (but just as rocking) side of the group. The trio pulls no punches: the rock comes complete with handclaps, gospel-inspired sing-a-longs, the whole deal. It doesn’t change the world, but if this is a spiritual, consider me converted … and badass.