“I wanna make you happy cos I like you a lot” sing GusGus, which just goes to show it’s all about context really. In another time and place these words could be despatched by a young man with a cardigan and glasses, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and destined to end up on the soundtrack of the next indie rom-com. But this isn’t Chairlift, this is GusGus.
On 2007's Forever, the Icelandic collective GusGus were ecstatically high-energy and a little out of control. Their Day-Glo party had been going on for hours and the night was still youngish, their pupils weren't quite the appropriate size, and everything sounded like a really awesome idea. Since then, Urdur "Earth" Hákonadóttir, the singer whose robust wail was all over the last couple of GusGus albums, has left the band, they've hooked up with the Cologne minimal techno label Kompakt, and Iceland has gone into a financial tailspin that makes the U.S.
GusGus's first release on picky German tastemaker label Kompakt gets their relationship off to a rocky start. Initially set for July release - likely in hopes that its expansive electronic style could be the soundtrack to outdoor summer beat festivals - the album instead just dropped now. [rssbreak] Kompakt probably made the right move, as this isn't a summer jam.
Forget for a moment that Iceland’s wealth has evaporated like steam from a geyser. For before the crisis, GusGus represented everything about the country for someone who’s never visited it: rigorous experimenters conveying the kind of abject isolation that presents itself in a vast windswept landscape like their own. Yet, rather refreshingly, they did it with all the conscious whimsy of Kraftwerk, rather than the suicidal intensity of Sigur Rós.