Review: ‘Heavy Cross,’ New single from The Gossip

04.27.09 9 years ago

AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Will the first single, “Heavy Cross,” from The Gossip’s forthcoming album, “Music for Men,”  finally provide the punk-influenced band its breakthrough in the U.S.? Although based in Portland, Ore., this U.S. outfit has found a far more welcome reception in the U.K., where lead singer Beth Ditto has graced the cover of such influential magazines at NME.

Sharp, stiletto like guitar work, similar to U2’s Edge, permeates the track, which was posted to the group’s myspace page today. 

Continuing the U2 comparisons (and, trust me, they are only for a few bars of “Heavy Cross”), the song’s echo-y opening sounds like something off of “No Line on the Horizon” before evolving into Ditto’s great vocals that cross the sweetness of a Ronnie Spector with the bravado and sass of Deborah Harry. Unlike a lot of singers who trade in the dance/electronica realm (though the Gossip is not limited to that), Ditto’s vocals are never overwhelmed by the production and despite the sometimes inherent coldness of electronic music, she always brings a warmth. The little giggle that comes in 3 minutes in is downright adorable.

The Gossip released its first EP in 1999, but have never developed more than a cult following in the U.S., perhaps because Ditto is a plus-sized, very outspoken lesbian. However, those who aren’t listening to the Gossip are denying themselves of a great treat, given she’s one of the best vocalists around. But as long as we demand that our female lead singers look like supermodels, that greater breakthrough probably won’t happen.

“Music for Men” comes out June 23 as a digital CD; the physical release will be Oct. 6.

You can also listen to “Heavy Cross” below.

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