Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto EP

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Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto's extraordinary voice has often been overshadowed by her extracurricular activities, but perhaps keen to redress the balance, the 30-year-old attempts to let her music do the talking with a surprisingly tentative first step toward a solo career on this four-track EP. Adopting the Gwen Stefani approach rather than the Brandon Flowers, it's an entirely different beast than her band's usual fare, taking its cue from the glossy dancefloors of the early Chicago house scene rather than the lo-fi garage rock of the '80s, a sound which allows Ditto to eschew the guttural roars she's become famous for and instead channel her inner soulful and seductive dance diva. Of course, this isn't the first time she's dallied with dance music, having collaborated with Simian Mobile Disco (who returns the favor by producing the EP), on the hypnotic "Cruel Intentions," and it's this sleek, polished, and slightly dark electro direction which she further explores to stunning effect here. Nowhere more so than on opener "I Wrote the Book," a tale of a romance turned sour set against a backdrop of squelchy analog synths and retro house beats which show that its "Justify My Love" pastiche video wasn't her only Madonna-inspired idea. Elsewhere, Ditto's floaty falsetto tones glide over an atmospheric slice of new wave disco on the Grace Jones-esque "Do You Need Someone?"; "Open Heart Surgery" combines a bubbling bassline with video game effects and kaleidoscopic bleeps to produce a beautifully melancholic floor-filler, while "Good Night Good Morning" is a gorgeously dreamy nu-synth number which slowly gallops its way around some engagingly vulnerable lyrics. If this is the precursor to a full-blown album, then Ditto couldn't have whetted the appetite any more.

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