Iceland’s GusGus has scaled down to just a fraction of their original nine members, and it really sounds like that on their new record. Not that that’s a bad thing at all — just different, and refreshing, like sorbet after a big bowl of pasta. From the second you hear new girl singer DJ Earth curl her lips around “Unnecessary” and its foxy lines “You change the tide / Send the sea to me / You make the moon / Unnecessary / To me,” you’re intrigued; when the fuzzy acid guitar starts squalling over the synth beds, you’re hooked.
These are a bunch of really great songs that you can dance to. If you’re looking for more depth or significance than that in an Icelandic act, then you’d better wait around for Sigur Ros or Bjork’s new one. What you’ll get here are things like the echoey, robotic flirt of the title track, the ultra-adorable “Dance You Down,” the speedy deep-house-esque “IIE,” and the pointillist squelch of “Your Moves are Mine.” These tracks have only one message: “Your hips move four ways for a reason. Move ’em!” And, unless you’re the pre-oil can Tin Man, that’s what you’ll be doing.
Okay, maybe there’s an emotional tug in “David” and its “I still have last night in my body / I want you here with me.” And maybe the slowly unfolding closing track, “Don’t Hide What You Feel,” has some heart to go with its bubbly bleakness. And yeah, I really really love even their Orbital ripoffs (“Desire” should be actionable) and their Underworld-y sounding stuff (“IIE”), because I really like Orbital and Underworld.
And sure, this album has kind of battled its way into my Top 20 Of 2002 list, at least for now, through sheer tenaciousness and energy. I guess the only reason I like it is that it sounds good to me. So sue me.