Haslem Stroud on always-confusing new 100 gecs album, ‘10,000 gecs’
After 100 gecs’ debut album 1000 gecs, one would be forgiven for thinking that music as a concept must have been discontinued. The album made no logical sense, but had a strange charm that drew many listeners in. It helped shape the hyperpop scene, both musically and conceptually, and left fans in eager anticipation of whatever the band would follow up with. So, when mememe was released two and a half years later, the eager anticipation was replaced with fear of the unknown. The gecs were back with a vengeance, with a heavy-hitting, yet decently accessible song, at least by their standards. Every subsequent single released came completely out of leftfield, not quite sticking to one style, yet never deviating from the bullet-hell style of production that fans had come to expect. On 17 March 2023, our questions were all answered with the release of 100 gecs’ sophomore album 10,000 gecs. ‘Uh oh’, thought everybody.
The album opens with the THX intro stinger, just in case you forgot who you were listening to. Immediately after, a killer guitar riff with some tight, heavy percussion comes straight in. It’s Dumbest Girl Alive, the album’s explosive intro song. The first thing I noticed was that it was immensely well made. Sure, it’s still massively distorted, but the mixing is superb, especially compared to the previous album. This level of quality would be here to stay throughout the whole LP, with the much-anticipated song 757 up next, with a grimy square wave bassline pulsating through the track, like a toned down echo of the gecs’ previous work. I say ‘toned down’ incredibly loosely, by the way. If 1000 gecs is like a stampeding rhinoceros, this album is more like a caffeinated ox. The third track is Hollywood Baby, which is the album’s highlight, in my opinion. The dirty guitar riffs come back, this time with fewer electronic elements, and more of a straightforward rock approach. You could quite easily show this to anybody and they probably wouldn’t think twice. The pure catchiness of the song’s chorus is backed up with infinite headbanging potential, and it shows that the gecs’ style can really work with something more simple. Frog on the floor is up next. This immediately draws your attention with the relatively clean vocal processing and lack of distortion. It’s a silly song, packed with charm and humour, and a nice break from the onslaught.
By this point in the album, it’s already clear that it’s a different experience from 1000 gecs. That album was more experimental, and while fantastic, it was clear that the band was still finding their feet with regards to production. 10,000 gecs is a different beast altogether. The sheer diversity of genres and styles, while keeping absolutely faithful to the carefree craziness that brought such an audience in the first place, is remarkable. Not that you have the time to think about it, because track 5 is Doritos & Fritos. This is the longest song on the album at 3 minutes and 30 seconds, which is like a whole symphony by 100 gecs standards. The opening bits of what sound like guitar pickup tapping fit so well with the drums it could bring a man to tears, not to mention the slap bass driving the whole groove of the song, which is a welcome surprise. The noisy guitar bits are also surprisingly fitting, and remind me of a few songs from Odelay by Beck. Speaking of noisy guitar, the next track is Billy Knows Jamie, a nu metal belter of a tune, with a monster guitar riff and immense vocals. Fans of the gecs song 800db cloud ought to like this quite a lot, as it has a similar switch-up into a death metal section that honestly has some pretty cool sound design in it. This section flows neatly into One million Dollars, an industrial sounding beat that sounds as if Justice and The Prodigy made a song together using a nuclear bomb. This shows the darker and less bubbly side of hyperpop, a path not often taken by many of the bigger hyperpop artists.
Up next is The Most Wanted Person In the United States, which has a similar style to Frog on the floor, with less production and weird samples, but even more toned down. By this point, the album has become so chaotic and unpredictable that you stop even trying to guess what the next song might be. I Got My Tooth Removed starts off with some R.E.M. style guitar and soft drums, ballad style. Next thing you know, you’re listening to a ska-punk song, and the last fragment of your composure leaves you. This album is under half an hour, but you can feel yourself ageing as it progresses. It’s stopped being an emotional rollercoaster and started being more like an emotional obstacle course. It’s almost over. The ending track, mememe, is stellar. It’s got that mid-2000s pop punk feel, with typical 100 gecs wackiness. It was well chosen as the closer, and it leaves you with a good feeling, and you’ll probably have it stuck in your head the rest of the day. If you even still have a head by the end of it.
So what’s it all about? Well, this album is stupendous. It’s packed to the brim with loopiness, groove, and attitude, and it does its job without outstaying its welcome. Compared to the previous album, 10,000 gecs is less electronic and more guitar driven, it has more experimentation with different genres but is otherwise a bit more straightforward and accessible, and the production value is orders of magnitude better. I can tell you how well made it is. I played it in the car with my parents. My dad didn’t seem to mind, and my mum fell asleep. I’ve tried playing 1000 gecs to them, and they just look at me like I’ve killed a squirrel or something. Compared to other hyperpop acts, 100 gecs remain the freshest thing on the market, not striking gold every time, but never once being boring. They effectively carved out the sound of hyperpop, and it’s refreshing to see music being not so serious. The band clearly are having a blast making this stuff, and it proves that you don’t need to follow every rule in the book. You probably don’t even need a book.
Godspeed, 100 gecs.
By Haslem Stroud
Photo by Cedric Letsch via Unsplashed