As musical cycles continue (see the 80s pop revivalism of the recent Dua Lipa and Lorde albums for instance) it’s very easy to feel as though you have heard it all. Yes, some artists may execute ideas and blend styles better than others but rarely do groups disregards genres conventions or intertwine them recklessly and without care to the point where the end product feels genuinely unique.
For the uninitiated: 100 gecs are a music duo from the US comprised of Dylan Brady and Laura Les. The best way I can describe them is they sound like if you told an AI to write music and only gave it songs from the 00s as reference material. Their songs take different aspects of genres like metal, dubstep, rock, hip hop, experimental and ska and fuse them together with modern hyperpop sensibilities.
They released their debut album in May 2019 to a mixture of critical acclaim and confusion; if you listened to the random samples of dogs barking, police car sirens and water droplets plopping that pepper the dubstep drop of album opener 745 Sticky you’d be forgiven in thinking this was a joke. However, if the joke was on anyone it was on those who didn’t take 100 gecs seriously. Over the past year their ability to write experimental yet catchy music has earned them incredible amounts of attention. They received a cover story from the New York Times, toured with Brockhampton, Dylan produced 2 of the songs on the latest Charli XCX album and they currently have over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
For anyone that hasn’t heard 1000 gecs I highly recommend it; it is easily one of the most inventive albums of 2019 and arguably one of the most daring of the 2010s. But this is a review its newly released sister album 1000 gecs and The Tree Of Clues. So what is 1000 gecs and The Tree Of Clues? It’s simultaneously a remix album, a celebration of the last year and a giant victory lap for the duo. In the first leg of the album Laura and Dylan enlist the help of a range of artists including: PC Music founders Danny L Harle and A.G Cook, hyperpop stars Charli XCX and Hannah Diamond, rappers Rico Nasty, Injury Reserve and emo legends Fall out Boy and Craig Owens to reimagine their song. The duo then proceed to tie off the album with two new tracks and a couple of live recordings.
The quality of talent that has been brought on ensures that there is never a dull moment, the album opens with A.G Cooks reimagining of one machine which effortlessly transitions from glistening PC music inspired synth passages to distorted industrial noise. Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito and Rico Nasty follow up with their take on ‘ringtone’ with what is undeniably one of the best remixes on the album, the chemistry between these 3 is exceptional, the playful nature of Sarah Bonitos verse plays off exceptionally well against Rico Nasty’s bombastic offering and Charli XCXs vocals feel like they were made for this track.
One of the highlights of this album is that it has made many established artists step outside their comfort zone. Take for instance Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens (Chiodos/D.R.U.G.S) and Nicole Dollanganger who use this as an opportunity to experiment and in doing so create the best remix on the album. The soaring pop punk vocals of Patrick Stump compliment the guttural metalcore scream of Owens and the haunting croons of Dollanganger; the trio stick to their respective styles for the first two thirds of the song before leaning into 100 gecs signature overblown, verbose style, plunging the track into high octane distorted chaos. This is easily the most exciting thing that industry veterans Fall Out Boy and Craig Owens have done in years and the addition of Nicole Dollanganger only makes it better.
The quality is consistently high throughout but every artist adds their own personality to the song meaning no two moments are the same. The recently disbanded industrial pop duo Black Dresses bring heavy guitars and warped rock style instrumentation to ‘745 Sticky’ whereas Tommy Cash, and Hannah Diamond add a flashy 00s Eurodance flair to xXXi_wud_nvrstop_UXXx. Injury Reserve are down tempo and slick whereas Dorian Electra is frantic and high energy. The diversity can lead to the remix portion of the album feeling a little bit like a rollercoaster: fun but dizzying.
The two new tracks ‘came to my show’ and ‘toothless’ feel like a response to 100 gecs becoming an international sensation, they both play upbeat melodies and heartfelt lyrics against leftfield avant pop production that leave you excited for what is to come next for the duo.
As with any remix album there are some efforts that are better than others and the flow of the album can feel somewhat jarring at times, however, these are minor gripes. If this album is a celebration then 100 gecs really know how to throw a party.
Words by Tom Baker
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