100 Gecs makes music that dares the listener to hide behind snobbery. Every song is designed to make your parents scoff, as if Gecs masterminds Dylan Brady and Laura Les exhumed the corpses of every embarrassing pop music trend of the collective millennial youth and stitched them together into a shrieking, vengeful freak femme Frankenstein. The duo’s newest collection of tunes comes with an appropriately high voltage title (1000 Gecs) and 10 tracks in 23 minutes; it’s the punkiest record released, since, like, Yeezus. And as was the case with Mr. West’s opus, 1000 Gecs is an exercise in leaning in to outsized pop persona and bathing in the simulacrum of contemporaneous culture. But whereas West (and just about any and every rapper) luxuriates in self-referentialism, Gecs buries the self amidst their sonic reference points, asserting pop culture curation as personality. This is to say that Gecs are their music; there is no need to delve deeper into who they are, for they have spewed it all out into a digital file. The video for album single “Money Machine” purposefully obscures Brady and Les’s faces via digital effects, and some glam metal-esque (or Willow Smith-esque) hair whipping. Even the album cover only shows the pair’s backs to the camera, the figures leaning towards a bush like that Homer Simpson gif in reverse. This isn’t a confrontational choice, but an act of solidarity between artist and audience, an invitation to indulge, with them, in everything we were told not to like.
One song will sound like Sleigh Bells, before the distorted vocals morph into death metal pig squeals; another will fuse trap, cartoonish Ariel Pink melodies, and Deadmau5-style dubstep. They update Reel Big Fish via Fred Figglehorn-sounding vocals and the guitar riff from the song Matt Damon sang in Eurotrip.
Indeed, the Gecs project seems eager to decentralize musical auteurism — but Brady and Les’s music never reads as preachy or condescending. There is no irony here, no smirks; ‘uncoolness’ is a merit, not just a new pose. Gecs borrow the syntax of rap music, while swapping in their own gonzo boasts and threats, a very literal display of the mental processes that allow us to see ourselves in the music of others. One could imagine how this approach might result in tasteless parody. But Gecs are already starting from a place of “tastelessness,” a position that allows them to engage their imagination in daringly dumb ways. One song will sound like Sleigh Bells, before the distorted vocals morph into death metal pig squeals; another will fuse trap, cartoonish Ariel Pink melodies, and Deadmau5-style dubstep. They update Reel Big Fish via Fred Figglehorn-sounding vocals and the guitar riff from the song Matt Damon sang in Eurotrip. Each component on 1000 Gecs seems crafted to provoke a wave of queasy recognition that, eventually, blossoms into joy. It’s a compilation of songs that feel like cruising through an iTunes library, in the era of the 99¢ single. Gecs understand that the nostalgia machine is moving faster than ever, and they’re not looking to disrupt it — they’re figuring out how to steer.