Reykjavik On Stage reports today (Wednesday, when I’m writing this…) that Högni just quit Gusgus, which if it’s true is a bummer because his vocal contributions to the band’s last two albums were spectacular. I haven’t seen any other sources reporting this, so I have no idea if it’s true or not. But the news got me craving some pre-Högni Gusgus, so I dusted off my vinyl copy of 2002s Attention and gave it a spin.
One of the things I love about Attention are Earth’s vocals. When I first got into Gusgus in the 24/7 era she had already departed the band, so I only knew them without a female co-vocalist. But she was back for Arabian Horse and she blew my mind. And her work on Attention is brilliant, probably nowhere more so than on “David,” which she absolutely slays. But let’s be honest, the consistent sound of Gusgus comes from the voice of Daníel Ágúst, and he’s fantastic on this album as well. It opens with “Unnecessary,” a track that while less sonically rich than the band’s later material is still one of their best all-time cuts. Follow that up with “David” and “Desire” to comprise side A and you’ve got one bet sides of music out there, anywhere, ever. Man I wish they’d play some of these older tunes in their live sets. I’ve seen Gusgus in concert probably four or five times since 2009 and I can’t think of a single time they’ve played a pre-24/7 jam.
What separates Attention from Gusgus’ most recent three albums is the sonic depth – not only has the low end gotten lower over time, but it’s rich and deep, totally filling up the space. Attention by comparison is more sparse and deliberate. That’s not to say it is sparse and deliberate… just that’s how it sounds in comparison. That being said, there’s not a lot of low end here, with the range staying more at mid and high. Still very danceable (see “Dance You Down”), but not what we’d expect to hear on the dance floor today.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again – Earth makes this album with her vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of Daniel’s voice; but when you throw Earth into the mix, well, magical things happen. If you’re only familiar with the more recent releases by Gusgus, you owe it to yourself to check out their back catalog, because it’s flat out brilliant.