I don’t remember having tinnitus before listening to 100 Gecs’ newest album, “10,000 Gecs,” but ever since, there’s been an incessant whine in my ears. I made sure to book an appointment with my doctor before listening to the album again. And again. And again. Because losing my hearing might just be worth getting one more juicy 800 dB bite of the fruit that is this album; I want that sweet, auto-tuned nectar dribbling down my chin as my ears are caressed by pillows of wub-wub-wubs.
100 Gecs is Laura Les and Dylan Brady, both from St. Louis MO, and they jumped to fame on the hyperpop circuit with their 2019 release, “1000 Gecs.” At the time, hyperpop was starting to gain some mainstream attention, primarily to the success of artists like Charli XCX, Caroline Polacheck, Dorian Electra and of course, Alex G and his crew at PC Music, but being such a fresh genre it was hard to define.
“1000 Gecs” proved to be the definitive album for what constituted hyperpop in its most raw form. Glitchy production, pop culture samples, oversaturated use of auto-tune and nostalgic, sentimental melodies became the basic elements of hyperpop and 100 Gecs served that distilled with an extra 100dB of volume and a home-brewed sound design.
The explorative sound of “10,000 Gecs,” is appropriately described by Reddit user grain_delay, with their comment, “this is instantly the hyperpop meta.” Instead of helping further define the genre, this outing pushes those boundaries, exploring punk rather than pop (hyperpunk?) in effect, shedding any sort of labeling or pigeon-holing of the genre. The band never takes itself too seriously and leans into the fun side of hyperpop, wielding an arsenal of laser blasts, ear-shattering effects and a song about a frog supervising keg stands that might just be song of the year.
The album opens with the track, “Dumbest Girl Alive,” appropriating the immortalized THX theme (you might remember the sound from trying to play your “Cars” DVD at 5 a.m. without waking your parents, but even with the volume on low it made your speakers shake) only to blight it with distortion, crush it and replace it with a puncturing guitar melody.
On this song and the one following it, “757,” 100 Gecs displays an air of virtuosity eclipsing the imposition that they’re just computer geeks (which they are). The tracks consistently have complementing melody lines across frequency ranges and the sound is exquisitely balanced, providing something to listen to at every pitch range. The melodies are littered with moments of silence that are jammed with computer jitters, x-wing blasts and digital fluctuations that are fun and characterizing; it’s more than a song, it’s the soundtrack to another world.
The following song, “Hollywood Baby,” felt right at home driving into Ocean Beach; it’s a bonafide SoCal-style pop punk song, with an increased use of electric guitars, drum set and electric bass that sounds as if Blink 182 filtered their sound through a dishwasher; the singing even sounds a bit like Tom Delonge. The punk aesthetic continues throughout the album, though it encompasses different styles of punk.
The next song “Frog On The Floor” is a silly track about a frog that mysteriously appears at a house party and becomes the most popular person there. The off-beat guitar strokes and the Beach Boy-like harmonies, accompanied by syncopated frog croaks, are reminiscent of They Might Be Giants if they had been a surf punk band. If the swear words were removed, this would be a sure-fire hit for Sesame Street.
“Doritos & Fritos” continues the punk aesthetic with even more guitars, but this time it’s as if the guitar notes were sampled and glued back together like a glitchy sound byte collage; with the guitar upstroke played by a keyboard or a guitar, I just can’t tell.
“Billy Knows Me” is a hardcore EDM track combining elements of NuMetal à la Linkin Park or System of a Down, the textures of HardStyle EDM and the sounds my drier belches when I try to dry a soaked quilt. Some chunks of the song get so loud that all of it sounds muddy and clipped, like ripping industrial-grade velcro, and it makes me yearn to bathe in the deluge of sonic filth that is this song and brush my teeth with the run-off.
“One Million Dollars” keeps this energy going through dubstep-like distortion that feels inspired by Death Grips and makes my teeth rattle in their sockets. It’s followed by “The Most Wanted Person In The United States” that is just as dark and demented, but the sound design jumps back into a psychotic mess closer in tone to the earlier tracks. The soundscape is littered with boings, skirts, skreets, radio calls and gunfires that feed my delusional paranoia about bugs crawling under my skin.
The next track, admittedly, tricked me. It opens as a sappy love ballad; it’s whiny and melodramatic… until it transitions unmistakably into a ska song, and the yearned-for subject of the song is revealed to be an infected molar. Never have I felt so moved by the tragedy that is parting with your tooth; 100 Gecs moved me, don’t skip flossing!
The final song is “mememe,” the very first promotional single from the album and, acting as the final track of the record, creates a satisfying book-end for the project. What started as 100 gecs has multiplied into 10,000 gecs, and who knows how many more gecs they might conceive? Wake up America, this is only the beginning; Les and Brady are only showing a fraction of their power and I shudder to think what kind of atrocities they will unleash if left unchecked to achieve 100,000 or even 1 million gecs.