Through all of the changes Gossip has undergone in the long journey from Arkansas garages to clubs the world over, it's never been overburdened by recorded material. "Four LPs in 10 years," guitarist Brace Paine admits. "Yeah, we're not exactly the Fall."
The trio's new album, Music for Men—recorded with Rick Rubin for Sony after three years' constant touring upon the sizable back of global floor-filler "Standing in the Way of Control"—distills its inimitable post-punk discotheque assault through Rubin's legendarily platinum filter. "[Rubin's] like a New Age music guru: hippie-ish, but in the best way—all about creativity and understanding," Paine says. "He helped us put the puzzle together."
"Heavy Cross," the new album's propulsive single, definitely arrives from the same party as the band's big hit: chicly persistent percussion from drummer Hannah Blilie and the bristling angularity of Paine's riffs (think Prince drenched in New Wave classicism) strut around the outsized lungs of frontwoman Beth Ditto. Alongside her band's increasingly broad musical footprint, La Ditto's star has exploded across the pond—topping NME's cool list while penning advice columns and hosting game shows. She's even disrobed for dual purposes of fat acceptance and gay activism. Which is all present in Gossip's music: Every inch of every song clings to her roiling vocals as she weightlessly glides from a cooing Stevie Nicks seductive distance to the tuneful caterwaul of a gutterpunk soul diva.
It's less a theatrical performance than bravura representation of a woman containing multitudes, and the more far-ranging touches of the new release (which hints at electroclash Nashville at points) speaks to the band's ever-expanding perspective. "Us traveling the world has opened up hearing things you could never find in America. I stay in Berlin and go to techno clubs and then go to the crusty punk shows. In England, everything is DJ culture, and, in Portland, it's basement shows—so it exposes you to new things, for sure."
"A lot of people think we're British, which is weird because I feel like we're just obviously so not," Paine continues. But the U.K. media has claimed Gossip nonetheless. "We've had an offer for some MTV reality show, but c'mon, give me a break. That would just be ridiculous." Gossip, standing in the way of control, always.
SEE IT: Gossip plays Wonder Ballroom on Saturday, Oct. 24, with MEN and Boy Joy. 9 pm. $20. All ages.