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Gisli How About That? Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Gisli's debut album is a unique mix of heart-wrenching acoustic songs, guitar pop,...

Simon Fernand 2004

Not so long ago, the idea of a baby-faced Scandinavian rapping about Gareth Gates over a background of random drumbeats and sparse electric guitars would have sounded absurd, to say the least. What do you mean, it still does? You obviously haven't heard Gisli's "Go Get 'Em Tiger". It's all in a days work for the man some people are calling the Icelandic Beck.

It's eccentric, to say the least, but it's just one of the unlikely treats lurking on How About That? Gisli's debut album -a unique mix of heart-wrenching acoustic songs, guitar pop, stuttering drumbeats, and hip-hop, Scandinavian style.

The album opens with gentle acoustic guitar, coupled with plaintive vocals, which soon crashes into a rousing sing-along of a chorus, complete with fuzzy basslines and distorted guitars. The upbeat catchy rock continues through track two "Straight To Hell". And then things change altogether with the aforementioned surreal Gareth Gates rap.

It's these unexpected twists which make How About That? the record it is. Beautiful lullabies ("I'm Trying") follow big beat hip hop-fests ("Can You Make Me Right?") which follow melodic guitar-pop ("Passing Out"). What's more, Gisli has a very wry, witty way with words. The raps feature such media-baiting lyrics as "I'm like the Second World War without the Nazis, I'm like Diana without the paparazzis", and the slower songs feature such gems as "Disco never really died, it just went underground. Hiding for a while. It's like our love has done the same". It's also worth mentioning that this album features my brand new favourite song title of all time: the fantastic "TV = The Devil". Anyway, I digress...

There are times when the formula doesn't quite work. "Mind Games" turns from a sweet ballad into a repetitive noise. And the fact that the last three tracks are all pretty slow means that the album fizzles out when it could easily have finished with a bang. Still, that's what CD players have a random button for, right? For the most part, though, this record is inspired, a unique fusion of musical styles which sounds fantastic.

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