Switched On – GusGus: Mobile Home (Oroom)

gus-gus

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Icelandic band GusGus are electronic music royalty, but although Mobile Home is their eleventh studio album, it is the first one for three years. In keeping with the band’s fluid personnel roster, they welcome fellow-Icelandic singer Margrét Rán, from Reykjavík band VÖK – and chart a quarter of a century making music as they do so.

This album has a concept – the mobile home in question is Earth, but it is a futuristic world run by machines, a concept not too difficult to grasp as the advance of technology hurtles ever onwards. The main protagonist is experiencing very strong feelings of disconnection with the world, sharpened by lengthy bouts of solitude and alienation – again, a concept we can all identify with in some way after the events of the last year and a half.

What’s the music like?

Moody, but typically concentrated. The challenge for GusGus is to portray the heightened feelings of their concept without losing sight of their club roots, especially given the fact that most nightclubs remain resolutely shut. For much of Mobile Home they succeed in their aim, as the familiar cool beats and unhurried keyboard lines teaming up to great effect.

Higher is terrific, a solid four to the floor beat backing Rán’s continued assertion that ‘I need to get higher’, with pulsing keyboards swirling around like dry ice. Simple Tuesday is cut from similar cloth and written in the same key – as is Our World. On both tracks the vulnerable lyrics are now at odds with the heady music, creating a powerful and unresolved tension which is heightened by the offbeat stress in the latter track, where Rán and Daníel Haraldsson duet effectively.

Does it all work?

It does, but with considerably more tension and with a less instinctive approach than previous albums Lies Are More Flexible, Mexico and Arabian Horse. This time the lyrical content and vocals do not feel quite as inspired, though they do realise the album’s concept very effectively. Much of the album is at the same pitch – G – which may be a tactic to portray the feelings of isolation, but the ‘tingle factor’ is less than on each of the three albums mentioned above. That said, there is still plenty to enjoy, the beats are sleek and the keyboard lines effortlessly cool.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Mobile Home might not carry as much of a punch as some previous GusGus releases but it still has plenty to commend it.

Stream

Buy

You can listen to clips from Mobile Home and purchase via the Kompakt website