This is Gus Gus’ fourth album, but their first forUnderwater. Listening to this collection of synth pop,chunky danceable house and ambient electronica itlooks as if Tim Deluxe and Darren Emerson’s label has done it again,signing up a band whose sound is definitely ‘now’, butwhose roots lie in the tribal minimalism of housemusic in its most simple, stripped-down form.
Gus Gus are from Iceland, which as we all know by nowis the new France. As the electroclash fad dies down,the sleazy, eyeliner-wearing beautiful people arelooking for a classier, more refined version of synthpop, maybe with a bit more of a house ‘edge’ andIceland is the place to find it, daaaahling.
Havingexplored lush, arty electronica on Polydistortionand eclectic pop on This Is Normal the ever-changingcollective morphs once again (including their name,now officially gusgus). The band now consists of justfour members instead of a nine-piece project includingactors, filmmakers, designers and musicians.
Accordingly their sound has become more focused andstripped-down. In recent times we have seen thatmaking an electro-pop record can be an extremely easything to do: Whack down a Giorgio Moroder bassline,throw in some cheesy synths and drums that sound likethey came from a toy keyboard, shout some meaningless’sleazy’ lyrics and watch the trendies come running.
Gus Gus take these ideas on board but strip them downto their bare bones and refine them to the point ofperfection. The simple arrangements, as shown onUnnecessary and Your Moves Are Mine create theperfect backdrop for the sensuous voice of new memberUrdur Hakonardottir (aka Earth). And although she’sneither as fragile or flexible as the group’s formersinger, Hafdis Huld, it doesn’t matter as she soundsright at home with the group’s new sound.
This new sound basically takes us on a journeythrough the history of house music. David and DanceYou Down recall diva-led vocal house. Desireincorporates elements of the detroit techno innovatorsand I.I.E. is an acid techno stomper, all distortedkicks and barking synths. Not just content with apingold styles, Call Of The Wild and Detention tiptheir caps to the new school, incorporatingUnderworld-like lushness and ethereal melodies.
Gus Gus’ new style certainly exhibits a range ofexpression, but occasionally the album’s sterile,lucid approach feels somewhat monotonous. However,Attention is mostly a chic, stylish collection ofromantic, atmospheric music.