On 100 gecs’ 2019 debut ‘1000 gecs’, they made it clear that absolutely nothing was off the table: saccharine pop melodies, fiery hip-hop beats, grisly metal breakdowns and walloping bass drops — not to mention all the soul-piercing Auto-Tune — coalesced with near-baffling fluidity. They certainly weren’t the first act to make waves with chaotic, rule-breaking pop music, but thanks in no short part to their lovably dorky and chronically online personalities — injected into hits like ‘money machine’ and ‘Stupid Horse’ — they were the ones that broke the zeitgeist, catapulting hyperpop into the mainstream and making critics reassess how they determine what makes music “good”.
In an equally impressive act of artistic rebellion, the long-awaited follow-up to ‘1000 gecs’ — aptly titled ‘10,000 gecs’ — sees the trailblazing duo completely upend their own formula. They come roaring out the gates here with a playful chasm of nu-metal, pop-punk and ska flavours (of course supplemented with the sticky hooks and wonky beats that made 100 gecs a major emerging force), drawing a wealth of inspiration from ’90s greats like Limp Bizkit, Green Day and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
The new album’s second track ‘757’ is the closest we get to “classic” 100 gecs. It’s already a well-oiled staple of their live show, but the recorded version is notably different: vocalist/producer Laura Les’ new verses flip it from being a belting party anthem about revelling in one’s cockiness (“I exhale the blunt smoke, it sounds like a shotgun / I wanted a deal so I went out and I got one”) to an earnest and warm reflection on personal growth (“I can feel the changes and it’s something I’m embracing / Taking time out just to waste instead of always fucking pacing”). Though not explicitly billed as such, it plays like an ode to trans joy and liberation — a feeling that’s palpable across ‘10,000 gecs’, both thematically and in sound.
Les has long been open about her use of Auto-Tune to combat vocal dysphoria, which she reckons with on ‘10,000 gecs’ by singing almost entirely free of digital modulation. She sounds incredible, too: whether she’s cowering in fear of psychopathic movie stars (‘Billy Knows Jamie’), lamenting failed attempts at DIY dentistry (‘I Got My Tooth Removed’) or sweetly paying tribute to party-crashing amphibians (‘Frog On The Floor’). That confidence also rubs off on her lyrics, which are as bold and brash as ever as she waxes lyrical about the “money comin’ from [her] mouth” (‘Dumbest Girl Alive’) and having “Anthony Kiedis suckin’ on [her] penis” (‘The Most Wanted Person In The United States’).
Though his voice was all but absent on their debut, producer Dylan Brady steps into more of a co-frontperson role for the sequel, particularly stealing the spotlight with doughy, stoner-baiting choruses on ‘Most Wanted’ and ‘Billy Knows Jamie’. Both his and Les’ best performances come on ‘I Got My Tooth Removed’, easily a highlight with its seamless ebb and flow between heart-rending ballad and riotous ska-punk anthem (replete with thrashing drums from alt-rock legend Josh Freese, tearing guitars and triumphant horns).
Live instrumentation reigns supreme across the entirety of ‘10,000 gecs’, with another highlight being the mosh-ready pop-punk banger ‘Hollywood Baby’. Even the obligatory instrumental “interlude”, ‘One Million Dollars’, is a mind-melting assault of over-amped guitars and blown-out snares (with a quick slap bass detour for good measure). Like virtually everything else on ‘10,000 gecs’, there’s nothing about the track that should work, and yet it not only commands your attention throughout, but demands replay after replay.
Though it’s sorely missing some choice cuts from 100 gecs’ current live set (namely ‘Fallen 4 Ü’ and ‘What’s That Smell?’), ‘10,000 gecs’ is insanely fun and impressively ambitious. It’s also short but sweet, throwing its turbulent flurry of punches and then dipping out before listeners have a chance to really think about what’s going on. And therein lies the key to making the most of ‘10,000 gecs’: don’t think too hard about it, just take a deep breath and ride the wave.
Release date: March 17
Record label: Dog Show/Atlantic