Gustaf’s Package Pt. 2 Gets Under the Skin

Gustaf – Package Pt. 2
Royal Mountain Records

New York no-wave group Gustaf use their rowdy, thorny songs to poke and prod the irritating and ridiculous questions about being a sentient invasive species on this spinning globe. Package Pt. 2, a follow-up to their 2021 debut, Audio Drag for Ego Slobs, hammers away at a clawing sentiment that, no matter how the years pass, existence doesn’t get easier or ever start to make sense. 

“Audio Drag” and “Ego Slob” are more than shiny terms from their debut’s title—Gustaf use the former, referring to Laurie Anderson’s hyperbolizing vocal technique that metamorphosizes identity-projecting sound, to possess the latter—someone who poorly communicates their internal perspective in relation to the outside world’s chaos. Tarra Thiessen’s audio drag presence is heavier on Package. Compellingly in conversation with Lydia Gammill’s vocals, it’s both an earnest and comical way to combat the album’s dark self-scrutiny. 

Gustaf’s music feels like a mosquito bite. The itch is anxiously strong, their music darting, jabbing, and grooving while asking after the physical and metaphysical—bruised fruit is squeezed and tears are gently shed in the checkout line on “Produce;” time moves forward and memories called on during closer “End of the Year.” Album highlight “Ground” conjoins the two as Gammill sings, “I want something sacred / Touch me; touch me, ground.” Her vocals grow more ravenous with every “t-uh” sound. “I need something sacred! Is it—? Is it—?!” she begins to scream in the closing verse. But her vocals quickly deflate to deadpan, finishing her question, “In the ground?” Gammill’s quivering vocals command at every turn alongside the puncturing, skinny-legged rhythm section. 

As the album moves through questions of existence and crazed desire, Gustaf break skin with their viscous zigzagging. – GRADE: B+

You can preview Package Pt. 2 at Bandcamp and elsewhere.

Royal Mountain Records

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