Remember way back in the mid-90s when "electronica" was gonna be the next big thing? MTV even got on the bandwagon with Amp
; the show played mostly cool music but a lot of the videos looked like very low-budget laser light shows. One video that seemed as if the director had actually spent some time conceptualizing it was GusGus's "Believe", from their debut Polydistortion
. For those of you who didn't have cable back in '97, the video featured an asexual, vaguely creepy high-diver who tried to rescue a very confused-looking young woman who was drowning in a public pool. The song was catchy and danceable, but with some dark undertones and Son-of-God lyrical imagery. The rest of the songs on the album, establishing a pattern for the band, varied considerably in style from one to the next. GusGus's music, despite their initial lumping-in with the rest of the abortive mainstream techno revolution, was generally far from candy-raver fare.
The group's label-hop from 4AD to the more electronically-oriented Moonshine definitely appears to have had an effect on their sound -- or, more likely, it's the other way around. Attention finds GusGus embracing their glow-stick-wavin' side. Juicy, incandescent synths have largely taken over the sound, giving the music an old-skool techno feel. There are only a couple of songs here that you can't comfortably dance to, and both are quite lovely -- "Detention" in a movie-score sort of way, and "Desire", in which percolating low-frequency keyboards balance the smooth male vocals and stuttering beat.
The most apparent change from any former efforts is in the front; vocalist Earth (Udur Hakonardottir)'s style is more house-divalike than that of any singer previously employed by the group. The lyrics also tend to follow the house formula: repetitive, romantic. The effect, however, isn't at all annoying; Earth's voice is generally mellow rather than affectedly passionate, and she makes lyrics like "I still have last night in my body / I wish you were with me," sound almost profound -- or at least not gag-inducing.
Attention does have its weak spots; the opener, "Unnecessary", and the title track were repetitive enough send me groping for the skip button. Overall, however, Attention is a bubbly, pleasurable confection of an album, with beats enough to move your ass and plenty of hooks to keep your, um, attention.