The Human League’s Dare! is one of my all-time favorite records. People look at me with askance when I tell them that; a non-verbal expression stating, “My pal actually likes that god awful new wave band!” I understand why they do, especially considering my fixation on Lou Reed, Peter Laughner, Gene Clark, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and other assorted doomed artists. What people are missing is the Human League’s charm: the band writes great songs about, um, celebrating life. Personally, Dare! is a godsend, a reprieve from all that unhealthy nihilism, bad times, and disaffection. The Gossips’ Listen Up! is a lot like Dare!. It’s an artistically rich record that knows how to have fun. I mean, take the band’s cover of Aaliyah’s “Are U That Somebody.” Unlike The Saints or The Undertones taking the piss out of an oldie, The Gossip are one hundred percent sincere about the song; there’s no doubt singer Beth Ditto truly love Aaliyah. Jesus, I can’t tell you how refreshing that is; to have the fucking brass to cover such a stupid song. And let’s face it: rock’n’roll was built on stupid songs; examples: “Great Balls of Fire,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “Hound Dog.” People today, people like you and me: esoteric music fans with little to no life, forget that. We’re so caught up in saying no, in second guessing, we forget to say yes and to occasionally celebrate things banal and juvenile. I miss rock‘n’roll’s naiveté, which is why bands like The Reigning Sound, The Gories, and The Human League remain so endearing. The Gossip are helping bring that back too. It’s not an escapism; just a celebration of the joys of being alive. And really, is that so wrong?
–ryan (Kill Rock Stars)