- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gossip, “A Joyful Noise” (Columbia)

There is no one like the punkish Beth Ditto, and thus there is nothing like Gossip and their fifth and finest studio album “A Joyful Noise.” It’s electronic, bombastic, self-assured and a righteous floor-rocker thanks to one of the best voices in the business.

“Perfect World” gives us an early taste of what Ditto can do with her voice _ namely, anything she wants. She delivers soothing undertones followed soaring refrains while maintaining a thread of urgency on this rock-based track with a growling dance beat.

On “Get A Job,” drummer Hannah Blilie holds down a perfectly funky pace in spots where it’s needed. “I’d love to stay and party but I’ve got to go to work,” Ditto sings over an almost 8-bit backbeat that should thrill lo-fi fans, at least until the raucous hook comes around.

Even when things slow down, as on “In The Wild,” Ditto delivers it so sweet it’s a welcome respite from the rump-shakers that provide the fire on most of the songs. One track later Ditto urges us to “Get Lost” and shed the baggage of past emotions in favor of freeing the soul _ to the beat.

Coincidental plus-size body politics aside, Beth Ditto is the singer I keep hoping Adele will be _ more varied and carefree and never missing a note and an opportunity to both shock and shine. Adele does some of that. Ditto does it all.

“A Joyful Noise” is an album that no dance floor _ nor iPod playlist _ should be without.

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CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: “Move In The Right Direction” would be a dance-floor anthem in any era, from the Studio 54 days in 1970s New York to the remix-ready clubs of 2012. Pop producer Brian Higgins’ magic shines through on this put-it-on-repeat song about facing fears and staying on a healthy life path.

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Ron Harris can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/Journorati