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This Is Normal

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Album Review

Gus Gus' second album, This Is Normal, heralds their discovery that they are first and foremost a pop band. While the spacious, sophisticated electronica they developed on their debut (Polydistortion) is still evident, This Is Normal's smooth, streamlined finish has more than a nodding acquaintance with dance-pop. Though Normal is certainly less weird than its predecessor, it remains floating outside of the mainstream, but swims a little closer to it. Looking to explore individual normality within the album's 11 tracks, Gus Gus' multiple singers and songwriters expound on sex, fame, youth, and love. "Ladyshave" features sly vocals from Daníel Ágúst and a slightly kinky premise, while Hafdis Huld's breathy soprano elevates "Teenage Sensation," "Superhuman," and "Blue Mug" to an icy, remote beauty. As with Polydistortion, Gus Gus continue to be more convincing on their albums' quiet, introspective moments. The mannered chamber pop of "Bambi" and the pretty atmospherics of "Dominique" are among the highlights of This Is Normal, while dance-oriented songs like "Very Important People," "Starlovers," and "Love vs. Hate" probably sound less flat and distant at one of the group's amazing multimedia concerts. The innovative beats and arrangements on Gus Gus' debut are missed here, but This Is Normal is still a fine blend of accessibility and invention.


Formed: 1995 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

As a quirky, several-member co-ed band from Reykjavik, Iceland, GusGus were almost bound to inspire comparisons to the Sugarcubes, though a mid-'90s arrival caused the group to inherit influences from contemporary club music as well as trip-hop, rather than the post-punk lunacy that inspired the Sugarcubes during the late '80s. Associations with a pair of the hippest independent labels -- first England's 4AD, and then Germany's Kompakt -- powered the group's sustained profile from the late '90s through...
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This Is Normal, GusGus
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