Hyper pop has been in a bit of a weird state the past couple of years. Ever since pioneering artist SOPHIE unexpectedly passed away in 2021, the scene has felt at least somewhat stagnant. PC Music founder A. G. Cook has remained mostly silent, and Charli XCX shifted her sound away from hyper pop with her 2022 album, “Crash.”
Excepting those already mentioned, 100 gecs are one of hyper pop’s most prominent artists. The duo, comprised of Dylan Brady and Laura Les, shook up the scene with their 2019 debut, “1000 gecs.” A wild amalgamation of digital age genre fusion that nobody could have anticipated, “1000 gecs” quickly launched the band into the forefront of music that your parents probably would hate. As of today, their video for “Money Machine” has amassed over 18 million views on YouTube, and the duo has since worked closely with artists such as Skrillex, Charli XCX and Rico Nasty.
The release of the gecs’ new effort, titled “10,000 gecs,” feels like a crucial moment for both the band and hyper pop as a whole. Will they be able to maintain relevancy, stick true to themselves and cook up some new, exciting ideas? Or did they reach their peak years ago along with the rest of the genre?
100 gecs have certainly switched up their sound, replacing (most of) the deconstructed electronics and bubblegum bass stylings found on prior tracks with rock instrumentation. That’s right! “10,000 gecs,” at its core, is a rock album. The duo borrowed the sounds of ska punk, nu metal and nineties alternative rock and made them their own. On the one hand, this is exactly the innovation that was needed. On the other, there is a reason most of these genres are no longer relevant.
“10,000 gecs” begins fantastically with an exceptional three-track run. Opening with the iconic THX deep note, “Dumbest Girl Alive” features catchy flows courtesy of Les and multiple beat switches within its brisk two-minute runtime. On “757,” Brady’s slurred but constant vocal delivery is hypnotic, almost functioning as another instrument. Meanwhile, “Hollywood Baby” is the best song Blink-182 never made down to its bombastic guitar riffs and Brady and Les’ pop punk vocal inflections.
And just when you think this album has the possibility of topping the duo’s debut, “Frog On The Floor” starts. Although at first it is unclear whether this ska-infused jam about a frog on the floor at a party is a metaphor or should be taken at face value, knowing the gecs, I would guess the latter.
Admittedly, 100 gecs are in a bit of an awkward place musically. They can’t take themselves too seriously due to the irony-soaked identities they’ve established for themselves, but if they make a song too silly, then it sounds, for a lack of a better term, bad, especially considering they are pushing 30 years old. This mistake is made once again on the other ska track, “I Got My Tooth Removed,” a song that contains the lyrics, “I was down horrendous,” and is about exactly what you’d expect from the title.
The perfect level of silliness is pulled off to great effect in “The Most Wanted Person In The United States.” On this track, the duo leans into hip-hop with sassy vocal deliveries drenched in swagger. The beat is just as relaxed with a pulsing synth bassline and goofy sound effects that should not work as well as they do.
I have always admired 100 gecs more for their creativity than their actual music. Their recent Boiler Room DJ set is a clear example of this. But despite this album’s distinct change in sound, “10,000 gecs” feels remarkably tame. This makes this album a great starting point to the gecs for new listeners. However, if it wasn’t for the duo’s signature pitched, autotuned vocals, I likely would not be able to distinguish whether most of the track list was made by 100 gecs or a random now-irrelevant nineties band. Ironically, in reinventing their sound, they lost some of their artistic identity.
Regardless, the vast majority of feedback on this release by fans and critics alike has been positive, a signal that “10,000 gecs” was a success, and if the album introduces potential fans to the gecs and perhaps hyper pop as a whole, all the better. It’s just not for me.