Gisli - How About That?
There's something eminently likeable about Gisli; it's might be something to do with his laid back delivery or possibly his musical eclecticism but it's more likely to be both of these combined with the way his songs address the insanity of everyday life with a sense of black humour that’s rare in the pop industry these days. Something of a musical magpie, Gisli has delighted in stealing bits from pretty much every genre, which has resulted in him being compared to the likes of Dinosaur Jr, The Beta Band or Beck, but Gisli is much more than a collection of the best bits of others; his album might be something of a musical ragbag but guiding it all is the odd and singular vision of this ever-so-slightly unhinged Icelander and it's a vision that's rather irresistible.
'Loose' is the best way to describe the feel of the album. From the lazy hip-hop drum fills of 'Go Get ‘Em Tiger' to the semi-disco feel of 'I Don't Fight' to the double acoustic finish on 'Mind Games' and 'You & Me', nothing feels forced or rushed. It's as though someone has thrown the arrangements up in the air and been perfectly happy to just leave them where they fell. Debut single 'TV=The Devil' will give you some idea of how this works, at its heart lies a very simple beat with a two note guitar riff thrown over the top but somehow it works splendidly and the rest of the song just builds upon this very simple foundation. It's difficult to make this sort of thing work, but Gisli makes it look like the easiest thing in the world.
The subject matter, again, is something Gisli makes look easy. It sounds twee but Gisli is something of a poet-cum-lyricist in a style rather similar to The Streets. Taking material from the trials of the small stuff of everyday life, he throws leftfield lines into every song that make you take notice. Take 'I'm like an action film without the heroes/I'm like a million without the zero's' on 'Can You Make Me Right' or 'These clothes don't fit me/And my friends don't like me' from the 'Pavement'-like 'Straight To Hell' and this sort of thing is found throughout the album. His self-effacing approach and sometimes bleak outlook might be depressing in the wrong hands, but Gisli's black humour gives the whole thing a sort of twisted feel that it feels right laughing along with it all.
This is one of the finest debuts for some time. A voice as poetic as this, backed by arrangements that are never less than involving, is something to be cherished. If there's one criticism to be made its that it sounds like one of those albums that you play to death for a week or two and then never play again though this remains to be seen at the time of writing.