Since setting the internet ablaze with their delightfully baffling breakout album 1000 gecs in 2019, the St. Louis duo that many have dubbed hyperpop’s greatest gateway drug have released a remix album with some of the genre’s biggest names, gone on extensive tours previewing this album’s material, and signed to a major label – but raising their profile certainly hasn’t put any limits on the kind of unmatched irreverent madness and endearing goofiness that they’re known for. This is the kind of band that delays a sophomore effort for over a year due to clearing a sample of the THX movie intro sound. The vision is completely off the wall, but it’s all meticulously planned out. Some of the biggest sonic changes that the gecs have been embracing come in the form of more live instrumentation taking some of the spotlight from the electronics, as most of the album’s first half is taken up by thrashing guitars. Laura Les, a transgender woman who has previously spoken out about hyperpop’s pitched vocals helping her in moments of dysmorphia, is also seemingly getting more comfortable using unfiltered vocals, which brings an even rawer sound to the table that complements some of the more musically aggressive moments. Laced with frog puns, a duet with the TikTok voice, and threats of physical violence against your dad, it’s clear that nobody is having this much fun right now.
The album’s biggest draw, however, is the giddiness any music fan should feel listening to their absurdist lyrics and being unable to anticipate which world of genre they’ll pull from next. Over the course of a brief ten tracks, the typically bright melodies mix with elements of death metal, moody alt-rock, and a handful that go full-on ska. The opening track “Dumbest Girl Alive” basically sounds like what would happen if you mixed Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” with Travis Scott’s “SICKO MODE,” and if that sounds hilarious to you, then 100 gecs is going to provide exactly the kind of dopamine hit you’re looking for across this 26 minute project. If anything came from 100 gecs signing to a major label, it might be the fact that almost all of their songs now feel like a “Money Machine” – that is, they’re not as completely freeform and insane, many have a verse-chorus structure, but the instrumentals are still as chaotic and experimental as ever. The crunchy guitar riff, fun-loving sudden bleeps and bloops, and catchy trap-pop melody as Les seems to apply her absurdist attitude to the act of transitioning are a great re-introduction to why so many people are jumping on the bandwagon. The track “757” feels most like their older material, but for a band like 100 gecs, something similar almost sinks into the background – it feels a little like a gecs parody with its heavily pitched vocals, but it still gives the brain-rewiring that the best hyperpop should. Dylan Brady’s production makes for another sugary trap landscape with crashing percussion, and the herculean effort of rapidly editing vocal chops on the back end is something to behold.
If there’s any song that’s legitimately going to cross 100 gecs over, it might be “Hollywood Baby.” With an anthemic, shouted chorus – even though Les gets a little exhilaratingly unhinged at times – the guitar riff feels like the duo are playing on classic pop-punk. With big power chord stabs in the chorus and blowing just about everything out to absurd levels, it feels like a yassified – or rather, a gecified – version of a Fall Out Boy or Weezer song. It’s their new most accessible but still undeniably them creation, and it’s the first 100 gecs song that you can play at a party without getting weird looks. “Frog On The Floor,” however, despite being about one, should not be played at a social function upon any circumstances. But that is exactly what’s so incredible about it. An absolutely giddy and gleeful track about seeing a frog at a party and making sure nobody bothers it too much, you could sing the melody as both a lullaby to put a baby to sleep or as a bellowed arena chant. Combined with beatboxing, the kind of ska that would be on Sesame Street, and overall sounding like the kind of synthetic song you would make on Mario Paint as the beat is interspersed with ribbits, this kind of not taking themselves seriously is exactly what makes 100 gecs one of the most exciting bands to watch at the moment.
The single “Doritos & Fritos” was already high up on last year’s year-end list, but it’s still exactly what I need to hear when I’m having a bad day. Half of the compliments I give to 100 gecs make it sound like the music will be awful, but that riff of atonal guitar notes going all over the place gives the happiness chemicals for whatever reason. With some of their best absurdist lyrics – I truly wish I, too, could be “eating burritos with Danny DeVito” – and more ska energy, the track is pure delight. “Billy Knows Jamie,” on the other hand, is more terrifying than anything as it builds up to over a minute of death metal-adjacent distorted audio torture – but again, you just have to laugh. The rest of the song is the height of 100 gecs lampooning some of the worst musical trends of all time and flipping them so that they’re enjoyable again. In this case, those trends are nu-metal and Brady’s Limp Bizkit-esque frat bro chanted rap voice. So much of the joy of hyperpop is looking back on the cringe of what we used to be and giving our past selves a little pat on the head, embracing it as simply who we were at the time, doing our best. This track is exactly that. “One Million Dollars” invites all of the well-known automated voices on board to repeat the title as the duo run through a variety of genres underneath, essentially making for a 100 gecs instrumental. It’s only 2 minutes, but it feels a lot longer because it’s so much fun.
Slowing things down for once, “The Most Wanted Person In The United States” is a laid-back half-rapped track complete with “boioioing” samples and an X-rated shoutout to Anthony Kiedis, who feels like a natural inspiration behind their laissez-faire attitude. The real gem on the back end, however, is “I Got My Tooth Removed,” which begins with a waltz-tempo ballad that finds the duo singing a tearful farewell to a tooth that had to be extracted in their most emo cadences before exploding into the most full-on ska tune that they’ve attempted yet. As the trumpet riffs blare and Les runs through speedy couplets about avoiding the dentist, they wring all of the possible emotion and silliness out of a simple concept. Closing out with “mememe,” which was the first taste we got of the project and as solid a gec single as any, the duo put a final stamp on their weird and wonderful mix.
While it might not have the initial shock value and morbid curiosity that followed 1000 gecs around, this is the sound of 100 gecs refusing to be a novelty act and continuing to push their creativity to new heights. Taking their time before putting it out, they continue to eschew filler and recruit an unstoppable cult following.
Favourite Tracks: Doritos & Fritos, I Got My Tooth Removed, Frog On The Floor, Dumbest Girl Alive, Hollywood Baby
Least Favourite Track: 757