The Gossip, "Music For Men"

81 Billboard Rating

The androgynous face of Gossip drummer Hannah Blilie cops an intense stare on the cover of this electro-punk outfit's newest album, "Music for Men." With a quaffed confidence a la Morrissey, the photo personifies the cool poise that the Gossip has always maintained with its elegant glam-synth sounds and powerful beats, despite a raucous reputation. It may have been harder for the mainstream audience to swallow the image of Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto, whose onstage nudity and outsized persona have earned her respect among the gay and lesbian community. But on "Music for Men," the band's devotion to being itself has finally found it a place in the mainstream. The dark single "Heavy Cross" features ragged guitars accompanied by Ditto's sharp velvety voice, while the feminist-leaning "Love Long Distance" is supported by a swaggering bassline. On "Dimestore Diamond," Ditto employs all of her hard-edged sexiness and manages to charm with an appealingly intimidating allure. -Lavinia Jones Wright