Beth Ditto
EP


4.5
superb

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
January 6th, 2012 | 28 replies | 6,972 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Are you listening very carefully?

Of course Beth Ditto made a dance-pop record. What with her high-pitched and able set of pipes, scrappy cool, and gay iconicity, this was an inevitability. The sheer panache of EP, though, isn't something to be taken for granted - oh, no. The four songs on Ditto's debut solo effort are uniformly irresistible, their production (courtesy of Simian Mobile Disco) serving as a basic sonic constant. These beats thump proudly in all their analog glory while synth lines plink their way into your ears - only to remain there for days. It's telling that this record sounds best in its longer, floor-friendly iteration; the cuts on the wider release are more efficient and hook-centric, sure, but Ditto's earworms are most successful when they've a luxurious space to breathe in. Compared to its eight-minute incarnation, the single-ready version of "Goodnight, Good Morning" feels almost slight. Almost - because Ditto's vocal performance is at once both bracing and fragile enough to uncannily capture hazy late-night dubiety, and because the song's got a melody that Madonna circa "Like a Virgin" would kill for.

For its obvious melodic strengths, though, EP is a tease, slowly removing one layer at a time until its heart is revealed - ice-cold but definitely beating. "Don't leave me hanging," Ditto intones, only to later instruct, "just take it slow." It's just one of the many coy come-ons found here, which would prove frustrating were it not for Ditto's effortless sultriness. It's initially strange that this disc finds Mary Beth Patterson in a soft-edged, seductive mode, given that her work with Gossip is more philosophically in line with riot grrrl, but artificiality proves an able vehicle for Ditto's fierce perspective. The methodology behind that worldview is conveniently summed up on the record's lone single: "I wrote the book on it, don't test me." Dogmatic? Sure, but endearingly so - and besides, Ditto's delivery is impressively convincing. She boldly challenges ("the run-around will wear you out / you'll break it off, I'll break you down") and detachedly advises ("the world is full of good intentions / paradise is full of lies") in equal measure, neatly embodying the yin and yang of hookups, relationships, whatever. That all this is done with razor-sharp, almost dead-eyed precision is all the more remarkable.

That's what's most interesting about Ditto's voice: in its feathery slightness, it displays just how short the distance is between confidence and uncertainty. "Do You Need Someone" is my favorite song here because of how easily it flits between the passive braggadocio of its verses and the frosty almost-compassion of its chorus. Listening to it, I'm never entirely sure if the "she" Ditto keeps referring to is herself, a rival, or some combination of the two; the resultant tension is utterly intoxicating. And what better setting for such emotional pussyfooting than the club, forever the smoky meeting point for lonely souls and hungry ones? Indeed, those aforementioned analog pops are the perfect soundtrack to that place "where the evening comes undone", where the promise of a lengthened evening always lingers, and where emptiness relentlessly threatens to be a bedfellow. Ditto is the enigmatic temptress standing at the door, and it's a crying shame that she's indicated that EP is a one-off - the role suits her magnificently.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
conradtao
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I Wrote The Book": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UECeJzd-G30
"Do You Need Someone": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_Ztnivn1Wk

Hey, y'all.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2012



4507 Comments


Nice review. Bjork and Araabmuzik in the RECs ... should probably check this out.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2012



7140 Comments


Great review Conrad. Mindpos!

Also, I am interested to know what your top albums of 2011 were. Do you have a list hanging around somewhere? Or better yet - make a Staff blog! =)

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2012



7021 Comments


Yeah this is great. I like the last Gossip album a tad more though.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Tyrael
January 6th 2012



20738 Comments


Woah there Conrad

good review

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2012



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Freaky. I was just listening to this yesterday & today, and when I saw that you had rated it Conrad, I was surprised that you hadn't reviewed it.

Was a bit meh about the EP at first & then I began humming two of the songs & couldn't get them out of my head. Solid stuff & the lyrics are above-average too.

I think 'Open Heart Surgery' & 'I Wrote the Book' are the 2 best, but it's fairly consistent.

defjaw83
January 6th 2012



1765 Comments


mmm interesting. I love her voice and I'm partial to a bit of Simian so I guess I should get on this

patrickfannon
January 6th 2012



886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Awesome review, Conrad. Checking this out today.

Digging: A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

conradtao
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Irving: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=431708
I'm also hoping to do a sort of pop-centric feature/blog entry about 2011. If all goes well, it will annoy people! : )

Haven't written in a while. This was a nice record to return to as it was on constant replay for the latter half of 2011.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2012



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Helping with filling out the blanks.

Should've stayed with gossip

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

DoubtGin
January 6th 2012



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yea

Gyromania
January 6th 2012



15199 Comments


This is incredible, Conrad (review and EP).

STOP SHOUTING!
January 6th 2012



631 Comments


gyro messing everything up.

great review as always.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10194 Comments


Damn it, you write well.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 6th 2012



10194 Comments


Also, it's good you can hear this woman and not instantly be aurally assaulted by STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROOOOOL ODOHOWHWHOHWOHOWHODHWDOHOW

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2012



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

^ That tune is awesome, c'mon

MO
January 7th 2012



18233 Comments


I always enjoy reading your reviews conrad, even if I don't listen to the music you just write so well. Ace review.

Digging: Immolation - Dawn of Possession

balcaen
January 7th 2012



3183 Comments


skinny bitches always at war with beth ditto!

gonna check this out though. always thought she might be less annoying without The Gossip.

ffs
January 7th 2012



4819 Comments


She's fat.

Tyrael
January 7th 2012



20738 Comments


And her songwriting is meh



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