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splendid > reviews > 8/21/2002
Gusgus
Gusgus
Attention
Moonshine


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "David"

Buy me now
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.



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