My Agenda mashes and distorts disparate musical genres and sociopolitical potency into exhilarating, oddball earworms.
Dorian Electra has seemingly done the impossible — well, at least what seems impossible for most Top 40 artists these days to accomplish — with their sophomore release My Agenda. Along with an extensive list of creative collaborators, they have crafted a record formulated around a singularly haptic visual, sonic, and thematic aesthetic that synergizes into something greater than its bit parts, mashing and distorting disparate musical genres until they mutate into brief, yet infectious earworms. Characterized as a “crisis in masculinity” by the album’s gender-fluid and transgender ringleader, My Agenda flippantly cycles through a disorienting number of intensified tonalities to match the erratic nature of the many lyrical characters Electra embodies (usually lonely celibate males, secretly repressed homophobes, or some combination of the two) in a manner similar to the 100 gecs school of songwriting — which makes sense, considering Dylan Brady produced four of project’s 11 terse tracks. It easily qualifies as a bit weird and is certainly ironic enough for a cult fan base to latch onto, but there’s also a resonating candor to be found in this art once you get past some of its more gauche elements. There are moments where the line between genius and dumb gets especially thin — “Gentleman,” with its limp chorus and obnoxious horn line, feels like a phoned-in sketch that never evolved past its first basic idea — and, like nearly every hyperpop release from the past few years, there’s a discursive interlude that is practically begging to be skipped with each re-listen.
Outside of these few hiccups, though, the remaining, “proper” tracks are, for lack of a more refined descriptor, complete bangers. They are nearly all ridiculously fun cuts that still express a certain political potency, exposing the hypocritical insecurities of internet trolls and deconstructing traditionalist notions of masculinity in the process. Opener “F the World,” with its Lynchian, basic white girl fever-dream of a music video, constructs its chorus around distraught incel doublespeak — “fuck the world” in terms of both expected affection and performative dejection — and its aggressiveness is intensified by the track’s monstrous brostep instrumental, one that pulsates along to the rudimentary melody of “Canon in D,” eventually breaking into a drum and bass tempo once experimental rock duo The Garden enters the fray, and closing with a feature from rapper Quay Dash. The track’s thematic underpinning concerning the toxic antics of anonymous man-boys (and their not-so-secret dreams of getting laid) carries over to the Rebecca Black-assisted “Edgelord,” with the pair cosplaying as queer modern-day versions of the Joker and Harley Quinn; the distorted, blown-out electronic bass and trap snares deliberately agitate, much like the shocking “jokes” Electra’s character would crack anonymously on 4chan. The bubblegum bass-y “Sorry Bro (I Love You)” revels in the homoerotic undertones found in platonic male friendship (you know, the completely straight kind; “no homo,” as Electra puts it) while the equally playful “Barbie Boy” converts friendzoning and looksmaxing mania into hyper-pop hysteria. The album’s title track plays into anti-gay anxieties regarding the “homosexual agenda,” with Dorian outlining a plan to “destroy you all,” (all while flexing in their “rainbow suspenders” and scaring the straights with their “freaky gender”) with a prideful tone that’s only intensified once the Village People — the originators of performing queer espionage in disguise — triumphantly join Electra on the operatic hook. The re-claiming of hateful verbiage reaches peak velocity on the appropriately titled “Ram it Down,” which opens with a Viking metal power riff that eventually gives way into a thumping EDM rave, as the laconic chants of the chorus (“Harder, farther, deepеr/I can’t breathe”) imagines a world in which such a homosexual agenda has finally been accomplished. And album finale/cheese-filled BDSM anthem “Give Great Thanks” finds our incel hero finally succumbing to his urges, elated to finally have someone “fuck my face for a hundred days.” It’s an appropriate, punctuating closer, performed with a sincerity akin to the stylings of early Celine Dion — except, you know, gayer.
Published as part of Pop Rocks | Q3 2020 Issue — Part 2.