With the recent success of Everything Everywhere All at Once, the notion of the multiverse has been validated vis-a-vis pop culture. The concept points to the entirety of existence, including alternate universes and alternate or parallel realities, all of which are theoretically unfolding concurrently and proliferatively. Additionally, the motif conjures the idea of expanded or unlimited potential, encouraging us to regard our lives broadly and inter-dimensionally, as more macro than our conditioning would suggest.
It’s also worth considering that the premise of a multiverse, explored for decades in sci-fi films and literature, has gained popular traction when network-media platforms are ubiquitous, information is viral, sociopolitical polarities are rampant, and facts are treated as “alternative phenomena”. Hyperpop, in turn, is an aesthetic extension of this existential climate or zeitgeist. Sonic maximalism serves as a metaphor for contemporary life’s distinct discordancy and ineluctable arrhythmia.
With their new album, 10000 Gecs, 100 gecs (Dylan Brady and Laura Les) hone the anarchic sounds and Twitter-inflected quips of their debut, 1000 Gecs, employing a similar sonic palette while torquing their songcraft and vocal deliveries. In this way, the duo reaffirm their status as hyperpop ambassadors while implementing a notable mainstream savvy, including memorable beats, hook-ish melodies, and vocals that epitomize an au courant slacker vibe.
Opener “Dumbest Girl Alive” is built around a guitar riff reminiscent of Yes circa 90125, though Brady and Les eschew anything close to prog pretentiousness. In terms of tone, Beastie Boys‘ “Fight For Your Right” may be a more apt comparison, Brady and Les making use of and satirizing rock signatures that, in a less facetious context, would occur as anthemic. Les’ vocal, however, is quirky, soaked in effects that give it a post-human feel. Lyrics feign a nihilistic shallowness (“Put emojis on my grave / I’m the dumbest girl alive”). One has the sense that the entire track could be AI-rendered, an advanced program responding to relevant data tags.
“757” features glitchy vocals combined with glitzy accents and splashy beats. One imagines the sounds of a pinball machine filtered through a battery of effects gutted a la Brion Gysin’s cut-up method and then reassembled over a joint and sugary snacks. “Hollywood Baby”, meanwhile, brims with disharmonious accents but includes a catchy guitar riff and infectious melody. The vocals are some of the most accessible on 10000 Gecs, sometimes stripped almost entirely of effects.
“Frog on the Floor”, despite the silly stoner vibe, employs a hummable tune and ska-leaning guitar lick, illustrating 100 gecs’ easy-to-overlook reconfiguration of pop precedents. “Doritos & Fritos” also unfurls as a dippy complement to a Snapchat post but uses effective melodic elements. A blend of unbridled sarcasm and cleverly understated eclecticism brings to mind Frank Zappa‘s legacy and lineage, including tracks by Weezer, Ariel Pink, and Frost Children.
The somewhat irritating “One Million Dollars” features Brady doing his best game-show voice while repeating the title phrase ad nauseum. Beats and accents manifest, cohering into an uber-dissonance that recalls early Arca or Sophie if she overdosed on antihistamines and TikTok videos. “The Most Wanted Person in the United States” is a bit more melodic and less clamorous but still replete with audial and lyrical nonsequiturs, rhythmic tangents, and exaggerated use of effects. The song flirts with sonic flux, navigating a line between zaniness and dissolution. The track (and 10000 Gecs as a whole) inevitably evokes the perennial theme of the relationship between art and life. Is art supposed to mirror life? Whose life? Are classic principles regarding beauty and unity still relevant? Who gets to mandate and gatekeep these guidelines?
The raucous “mememe” opens with the telling lines, “You’ll never really know / no no no / anything about me.” While the song features a winning melody and a vocal relatively unobscured by effects, it affirms that 100 gecs have all but rejected conventionally expressionistic music. 10000 Gecs, like 1000 Gecs before it, is persona-driven, prompted by a musically based and environmentally habituated attunement to excess. The set is, finally, a bombastic yet strategically sculpted collage of impressions, sensations, and oblique commentaries. It succeeds as a cultural correlative, an audial reflection of modern-day life, as much as, perhaps more than, a purely aesthetic offering.
In day-to-day life, as much as via the internet, we wear numerous masks, despite the lip service given to such words as authenticity and vulnerability. The term multiverse has various implications, including that identity is propagative, unstable, and ultimately performative. We’re everything and nothing, everyone and no one. As Macbeth said, “Life’s but a walking shadow … a tale … signifying nothing.” 100 gecs work with this trendy yet fertile paradigm in articulate and resourceful ways.