The whole package—jagged neon-pink font, frontwoman Beth Ditto’s jelly bracelets, song titles like “Yr Mangled Heart”—just screams Hot Topic, which makes it that much harder to take The Gossip’s third proper album, Standing In the Way of Control, at face value. What works to the band’s advantage, then, is that The Gossip, though they cut their teeth on the post riot-grrl scene that spawned acts like Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre, don’t have any overtly political aspirations to deconstruct. But for the occasional line that hits upon greater insight by accident (“If everything I do has got a hole in it/Then everything you do has got a hold on me” from “Yr Mangled Heart,” in fact, might fit better on Sleater-Kinney’s brilliant, confrontational The Woods), Standing is a more immediate, visceral success. While bands like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party have borne the label of “dancepunk” for the past few years, it’s a far better fit for the brand of rhythmically adventurous, aggressive rock that The Gossip perfect over the course of these 10 to-the-point tracks. Their influences might not be subtle—on “Coal To Diamonds,” Ditto does a fierce impression of Peggy Lee, though most of her vocals recall smoky, vintage Motown singers in the best possible way—but they’re relatively distinctive for a would-be punk band, and The Gossip’s melodies are infectious and their beats propulsive enough—the hi-hat line on the title track, especially—to get the sk8er kids to drop the self-conscious posturing and dance a little. Which may not make The Gossip revolutionaries, but it earns them plenty of goodwill and a solid recommendation just the same.
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