Gustaf- Package Pt. 2

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Reviews

Gustaf Package Pt. 2


Package Pt. 2, the new album from Brooklyn art punks Gustaf, is a successful sophomore outing and a definitive statement from a band once seen as promising up and comers that they are here to stay.


Gustaf is made up of Lydia Gammill on vocals, Tine Hill on bass, Vram Kherlopian on guitars and synths, Melissa Lucciola on drums and Tarra Thiessen on percussion and “Cafe Bustelo Can.” This is a simplistic breakdown of the lineup; Gammill also plays flute, bass and keyboards and all members contribute backing vocals, most prominently Thiessen with her pointedly dispatched pitch shifter. Past and current projects of the lineup include Sharkmuffin (Theissen) and Tea Eater (Theissen and Kherlopian) and Francie Moon (Lucciola). Their first record Audio Drag For Ego Slobs was a post-pandemic burst of post-punk, and at times dance-friendly outing that drew praise from critics. Beck is a fan (he remixed “Design” from their debut 7 inch release) and the band has spent the last few years opening for acts like IDLES and Wet Leg, further bolstering their resume.


Gustaf performing

Gustaf performing

Gustaf performing

Gustaf live in 2023 (photos by Kate Hoos)


On Package Pt. 2 the band uses musical edges and angles like a construction crew, building layed tunes out of deceptively simple architecture. For me, the record invokes a concrete and faded neon tour of our city, à la Sonic Youth at their most New York. Gustaf will also inevitably draw comparisons to post-punk greats like Talking Heads. It starts off strong with “Statue,” as Gammill seems to outline her own compelling stage presence (“I project my way to the center of the stage”) before something seems amiss: 


If we stand still at the center of the stage

Will I see what they’re grabbing?


And oh!

The Statues!

They’re alarming! 

Oh The Statues linger on!


This underlying uneasiness is a common thread on the album, and it’s not always lyrical. The jerkiness of the music, the slinkiness of the basslines, all intertwine and judder about to form a strange, jittery soundtrack. That edge of menace is maintained on the second track “Close.” Never has single note and octave work been so goddamn catchy:



Gustaf are adept at using what isn’t there as much as what is, and nowhere is their command of the pause more evident than the first single “Starting and Staring.” The music video turns the expected laid-back atmosphere of a house show into an intense outing, as Gammil commands the viewer to “stay on my eyes” and the band slowly notices an otherworldly presence among the lackadaisical audience. 



“Here Hair” finds the band in a softer moment (“still I love you, I wake to your hair… you’re keeping me safe and warm”) which is paired with the punky coda “Hard Hair” for the video, in which Gustaf lose none of their weirdness despite slowing things down for a moment.



The singles from Package Pt. 2 are well-chosen. Other standout tracks include “I Won,” a tale of frustration, anger and ‘winning’ arguments, and the closer “End Of The Year.” The groups Bandcamp page for the album includes lyrics (highly appreciated by reviewers, to be sure) yet many songs for me remain at a distance, solid meanings hard to tease out, although the general vibe can be deduced. Gammill tackles longing with “End Of The Year,” reminiscing “out there you stay bare / somewhere out there I still feel you here / oh to enjoy being yours again / to wonder how I let you in / could the memory come back to me?


Package Pt. 2 was produced, mixed and engineered by Erin Tonkon, and recorded at Studio G Brooklyn, Circular Ruin and The Honey Jar. Tonkon has done a stellar job here, with every instrument coming through on its own plane of existence and Gammill’s voice never overshadowed, while maintaining total cohesion between every part.


Package Pt. 2  is out now via Royal Mountain. You can stream on Spotify and Bandcamp (where you can also order the vinyl or CD,) and you can currently catch Gustaf on tour—their next NYC show will be at Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 23rd.



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