This is Gus Gus‘ fourth album, but their first for Underwater. Listening to this collection of synth pop, chunky danceable house and ambient electronica it looks as if Tim Deluxe and Darren Emerson’s label has done it again, signing up a band whose sound is definitely ‘now’, but whose roots lie in the tribal minimalism of house music in its most simple, stripped-down form.
Gus Gus are from Iceland, which as we all know by now is the new France. As the electroclash fad dies down, the sleazy, eyeliner-wearing beautiful people are looking for a classier, more refined version of synthpop, maybe with a bit more of a house ‘edge’ and Iceland is the place to find it, daaaahling.
Having explored lush, arty electronica on Polydistortion and eclectic pop on This Is Normal the ever-changing collective morphs once again (including their name, now officially gusgus). The band now consists of just four members instead of a nine-piece project including actors, filmmakers, designers and musicians.
Accordingly their sound has become more focused and stripped-down. In recent times we have seen that making an electro-pop record can be an extremely easy thing to do: Whack down a Giorgio Moroder bassline, throw in some cheesy synths and drums that sound like they 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 down to their bare bones and refine them to the point of perfection. The simple arrangements, as shown on Unnecessary and Your Moves Are Mine create the perfect backdrop for the sensuous voice of new member Urdur Hakonardottir (aka Earth). And although she’s neither as fragile or flexible as the group’s former singer, Hafdis Huld, it doesn’t matter as she sounds right at home with the group’s new sound.
This new sound basically takes us on a journey through the history of house music. David and Dance You Down recall diva-led vocal house. Desire incorporates elements of the detroit techno innovators and I.I.E. is an acid techno stomper, all distorted kicks and barking synths. Not just content with aping old styles, Call Of The Wild and Detention tip their caps to the new school, incorporating Underworld-like lushness and ethereal melodies.
Gus Gus’ new style certainly exhibits a range of expression, but occasionally the album’s sterile,lucid approach feels somewhat monotonous. However,Attention is mostly a chic, stylish collection of romantic, atmospheric music.