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"Beth Ditto EP"

Beth Ditto – Beth Ditto EP
08 March 2011, 09:00 Written by Antonio Rowe

The fact that Beth Ditto exists within the music industry is, to be frank, a fucking great thing. To have an overweight, lesbian, feminist -punk rocker gracing the covers of music bibles such as NME, Dazed & Confused and Clash would seem like nothing but a futuristic dream from an open-minded 50s soul, if it were not for the bold evidence.

Whether or not she’ll have an everlasting influence in years to come like the one ’Godmother Of Punk’ and fellow feminist fountainhead Patti Smith has left, remains to be seen. However, it could be argued that she’s somewhat onto achieving a goal that the aforementioned rock ‘n’ roll legend could never quite conquer – connecting/impacting the current mainstream zeitgeist.

While Smith’s Horses was critically acclaimed at the time of release and is now considered a key factor in the prominence of New York Punk scene, it failed to connect with the then everyday masses. A problem Ditto luckily hasn’t had to deal with. From the moment pro same-sex marriage anthem ‘Standing In The Way of Control’ was used as the unofficial theme song for Skins, thus instantly becoming not only an indie anthem of sorts but one that packed a strong political message, her profile as a public figure soared.

Luxury fashions brands contradicted their self-manufactured idea of beauty, vying amongst themselves to use her charmingly extrovertive aura and curvaceous silhouette in the hope of eradicating the momentum gaining size-zero stigma. And furthermore after years of being told to yearn for Moss waifish figure, ironically suddenly Ditto was seen storming the hot-spots of London with the very same supermodel. Alas while her kudos as a fashion icon grew, her musical endeavours took a publicity back seat, Gossip’s last album Music For Men didn’t quite achieve the commercial success many hoped it would.

Something she seems determined to correct with this self-titled EP, a 4-track result of a collaboration between Simian Mobile Disco. It’s an intriguing prospect to say the least. But the decision to venture down the balls-out dance/disco-pop route may not be quite as arbitary as it appears at first glance. Beth is a formidable despot of her own voice, oscillating between a rapturous growl and angelic-like high notes with ease. It’s a voice that could potentially sell millions of records, but mantain some strain of uncommercial edge.

‘Open Heart Sugery’ is a song that justifies the aforementioned point, whilst this EP ultimately sees Ditto tone down the power of her pipes, there’s a little bit of vocal grit to the way she delivers the lovelorn words. Her melodramatic theatrics going hand in hand with the stomping piano riffs and the soaring glossy synths. It’s probably the best thing here; the song that oozes the most potential ‘chart hit’ charm.

One of the greastest qualities of dance music is the manner of which it depicts the dancefloor, lyrically it’s oftenly described as less as a place where people dance and more of a battlefield of emotions. An area where lust, euphoria, rejection and sadness all co-exist together in a volatile dynamic state. However, and rather ironically, predominantly it’s the latter that the ever optimistic dance scene focus on, ‘Do You Need Someone’ is a case in point, a track that deals with the importance of friendship. ‘I Wrote The Book’ is less understanding, and more of an earnest been there, done that approach to looking for love on the dancefloor.

With a little bit of luck the EP may very well achieve its brief; every song has a hook that could appeal to the layman. Although Ditto seems quick to state that this EP is nothing more than a cursory glance at a more commercially viable sound, you can’t help but hope that it isn’t, and for some reason or another, I get the feeling that it won’t be.

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