Label: Royal Mountain Records
Released: 1st October 2021
Despite having hundreds of live shows under their belt, Brooklyn’s art-punk five-piece Gustaf are just now unleashing their debut album, ‘Audio Drag For Ego Slobs’, following a single release in 2020 which established their first attempt at recorded material.
Relying mostly on raw, live elements with disconcerting production deliberately twisting and stretching this established style, the group here mould something that stands above its peers. While it is very much of its genre, this LP is something that exists outside of its time.
The vibe of the sprawling title is very telling of the energy that plays out over these ten tracks – a swaggering vocal delivery has vocalist Lydia Gammil revelling in soundscapes stuffed with chaos, adopting a sloppy but knowing approach to composition. Heaps of attitude are instilled into the ludicrous tales of momentous joy, as well as ever-present crippling dread.
Highlights include a delightfully chaotic ramble introducing the consistently janky, popping energy with lead single ‘Book’, and the gorgeously moody ‘Dog’, utilising trembling basslines and cuttingly simple riffs to generate an uncomfortably overwhelming environment alongside production additions fitting the title. Laidback declarations of obedience, distorted views of adoration expressed through stunted lyricisms and uncomfortable sonics, and the audible equivalent of motion sickness all help to flesh out the experience.
‘Audio Drag For Ego Slobs’ is a tight yet loose, concise yet rambling debut that makes an instant impression. Momentum rises and crashes in waves across the record, culminating in an elated and airy high that trails off feeling unfulfilled… but, after all, this is definitive art-punk; that elusive tone fits the themes and sounds explored here perfectly.