The Gossip - Standing in the Way of Control (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Gossip

Standing in the Way of Control (2006)

Kill Rock Stars

After three or so years out in the wilderness the Gossip re-emerge with new drummer Hannah Blilie and one of the first great records of 2006. Standing in the Way of Control does a wonderful thing in bridging the gap between danceable indie rock, the crunch of a great garage band and genuinely soulful blues. If the nouveau Death Disco acts proved anything, it's that the indie world's post-millennial admission that it's OK to dance comes packaged with some fairly superficial music. This record sports a few choice tunes that are every bit as propulsive as the bands of that ilk, yet it manages to completely sidestep the whole pseudo-ironic hipster scene.

The Gossip, much like the BellRays, plunge into aggressive, rock-minded yet Motown-inspired R&B with a strong female lead. Only while the BellRays rely on Lisa Kekaula's raw throated moments of Black Flag aggression, the Gossip play it much more restrained and cool. That's not to say that Beth Ditto can't wail with the best of them, as the title track shows, but there's an appreciation of dynamics here and for every screamed syllable there's a cool groove right around the corner. The Gossip should give lessons in sequencing, as the record makes the perfect mix of contrasting styles. There's a huge change of gears between the `80s throwback "Jealous Girls" and the smoky, brooding "Coal to Diamonds," but it's so effective. You'll completely melt for the vocals on the latter, but a couple songs later and you're dancing again to "Yr Mangled Heart."

There's a lot of space on this record, the result of the band's footing in blues and soul. Guy Picciotto's production wisely keeps things from getting too dense or over orchestrated, and with the exception of the few centerpiece pop songs this has the feel of some great uncovered oldie. That further distinguishes the Gossip from their contemporaries, and will likely fare them well when it comes to longevity. Just sit back and listen to Ditto whisper her way though "Dark Lines," evoking some sultry film noir lounge singer. It's brief but it's timeless, and there aren't many acts can come close to that.

Within the confines of a 10-song track list Standing in the Way of Control manages to spiral off in several directions. It's the band's triumph that they not only hold it together, but make it seem effortless.