THE CRITICS - RECORDS: POP

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THE CRITICS - RECORDS: POP

Electronic: Twisted Tenderness (Parlophone) This album is too short of singles to pick up many new fans for Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr, but the faithful will be relieved to hear that there is life in the old hangdogs yet. While 1996's polite album, Raise the Pressure, sounded like an electro-pop and a guitar band taking it in turns to record songs, the two halves collide on Twisted Tenderness, and harmonicas, scratching, strings and thunderous beats fly off in all directions. It's less obviously like the Smiths or New Order than like Garbage's pumped-up, pedal-to-the-metal techno-rock, but with a trademark dose of 1980s Mancunian melancholy

GusGus: This Is Normal (4AD) Disappointingly not as weird as you'd expect from the ironic title and from the knowledge that GusGus are a nine-piece Icelandic collective, This Is Normal is none the less an intelligent, alluringly smooth and spacey catalogue of electronic pop styles, from house to trip-hop to Euro-rave.

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