Oh, thank the sweet baby Jesus: Beth Ditto has returned to us.

The alt-indie-post-punk-soul-whatever you wanna call ’em rockers known as Gossip have just released “Perfect World” to iTunes today, the gorgeous lead single from their upcoming fifth studio album, A Joyful Noise.

To make these musical matters even more exciting (impossible!), the track was produced by pop perfection troupe Xenomania‘s Brian Higgins. Yes, of Girls Aloud fame. And Kylie Minogue fame. And Annie fame. (AKA, everything that is good and perfect in this cruel, cruel world.)

Accordingly, “Perfect World” is one of the group’s most lush, slick offerings yet, and exactly what you’d imagine a Xenomania-led Gossip production should sound like: Shimmering synthesizers mixed with a kicking drum pulse, melodic vocals and the raw energy of live instrumentation–the perfect marriage of nu-disco and soulful rock.

“In the picture perfect world/We can be more than before,” Ditto croons throughout the dependably hook-heavy chorus. By the time the track ends, don’t expect that melody to escape your brain anytime soon. Befo-oo-o-o-o-oo-oo-re! And that humming before the bridge? To die for, Miss Ditto!

Meandering into dance territory isn’t exactly a new thing for the troupe: 2009’s Music For Men was largely colored by disco-infused top lines and dirty bass struts (along with brilliant remixes–looking at you, Fred Falke mix of “Heavy Cross”!) while frontwoman Beth Ditto found solo solace with Simian Mobile Disco experimenting with late ’80’s and early ’90s throwback club sounds on her perfectly genius 2011 solo Beth Ditto EP.

Still, “Perfect World” presents a group consistently evolving and refining their sound, resulting in something slightly more polished in comparison to the explosive, searing yelps of their 2009 lead single, “Heavy Cross.”

Along with the new single, Gossip also revealed today thatA Joyful Noise will be released on May 22.

From the press release:

Recorded in both Xenomania, Higgins’ studio in England, and KBC Studios in Portland, Oregon, A Joyful Noise stays true to Gossip’s trademark brash and unapologetic nature – that is, as true as possible for a band that is constantly reinventing itself and pushing boundaries. Working with Higgins, Gossip sought to create their own brand of pop. Ditto proclaimed, “I spent the whole year listening to ABBA and not listening to the radio,” accounting for the pulsing energy of A Joyful Noise. The album’s infectious tracks will certainly be welcomed by fans who are already entranced by Gossip’s insanely danceable beats, and will no doubt lure in many more.

A whole year spent listening to ABBA? Sounds like my life story. I wonder: Will we get a “Hung Up” out of Ms. Ditto, perhaps?

I know it’s slightly premature to say this, but…I have no doubt that this will be one of the greatest records of 2012, hands down.

Click below the cut for the album’s full tracklisting!

“Perfect World” was released on March 13. (iTunes)

1. Melody Emergency
2. Perfect World
3. Get A Job
4. Move In The Right Direction
5. Casualties of War
6. Into The Wild
7. Get Lost
8. Involved
9. Horns
10. I Won’t Play
11. Love In A Foreign Place