Daníel Águst, former singer for the Icelandic dance/trip-hop outfit Gus Gus, applies a different but no less quirky approach to his solo debut. With an identical tracklist to 2006’s European issue, Swallowed a Star relies mostly on orchestral arrangements, heavy on strings, with ornamentation from sometimes industrial-sounding electronic effects. There really aren’t any beats to speak of. Though it’s playful at times, the album can’t help but sound pretentious. At best, Águst achieves an approximation of Tom Waits junk band and the twisted jazz of latter-day Talk Talk. In other words, he’s really not as original as he’d have you think. Love songs dominate, although it’s safe to say that “The Stingray” won’t be played at any Steve Irwin tributes. Águst’s breathy voice helps make Swallowed a Star a good candidate to soundtrack your between-the-sheets excursions, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. In short, if you think “One Caress” is the best Depeche Mode song ever, or you pine for the glory days of 4AD, you’ll love it.
// Notes from the Road
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