100 gecsThe brilliance lies in their ability to recontextualize established sounds through cheeky juxtapositions. In a year when blink-182 dropped their tasteless ninth studio album, “dumb horse” was a miracle, as Laura Les and Dylan Brady dictated what bashful pop-punk might look like if filtered through the sensibilities of online terminals; that his vocal melody sounded like a riff on the Californian trio”Russian mountainswas the icing on the cake. More recently, “memebrought the skanks back on guitar but with a Crazy Frog hook, reminiscent of other internet-rooted songs. (“Number Number” and “Dota“anyone?) Even”Doritos & Friestakes full advantage of sounding like a wacky version of current British post-punk band culture. As in buffoon tradition, 100 gecs are expert observers of culture, treating humor as a vehicle for enlightenment as well as entertainment.
Snake-eyesa surprise three-song EP released ahead of their upcoming second album, 10000 geksdon’t catch the spark of 1000 geks or whatever afterwards. Not only is this version barely over six minutes long, but its ideas are so devoid of creativity and nuance that it’s hard to consider it anything more than a botched stopgap for fans waiting for their new record. Beginning with its titular statement, “Hey Big Man” repeats a familiar phrase, but it sounds far less engaging than “money machine” and its opening “hey you lil’ piss baby.” The latter’s swagger was surreal, enhanced by a sticky hook and searing sounds; the music here sounds like a shy Brady retread material 2017 with a Sleigh bells filter, counteracting any weight their smack-talk might have. There are four seconds of hardcore dance music halfway through that adds momentary suspense, but it’s lazily integrated instead of cleverly integrated.
If 100 gecs’ appeal depended on shocking listeners, they’d be playing a losing game, but they’ve always had deft writing to back up their misdeeds. His absence is palpable on “Runaway,” a lackluster ballad whose soft piano melodies turn into a recycled hook. Its vocal melody sounds like a dull version of “the hand crushed by a mallet” and misunderstands what made this song indelible. When I saw 100 gecs perform it in 2019, there was palpable catharsis as a sold-out crowd shouted “oh my god, what the fuck” at the unison, backed up by other pithy lines embodying the current malaise (“I feel like I’m not good enough” and “I might go throw my phone in the lake” were two other howlers). Here, Les and Brady chat with lyrics characteristic of a traditional breakup song, the only consolation being Les’s frustrated acceptance of the circumstances: “I get it/I just think it’s fucking gay!”
The darkest panel for the future of 100 gecs is “Torture Me”, a song whose Skrillex functionality is antithetical to their shtick. When 1000 gecs and the clue tree came out in 2020, its litany of guests felt like a victory lap and a celebration of intersecting scenes – only 100 gecs could have brought them together. But having another artist on one of his own unremixed songs is an unnecessary shortcut to revealing the superficial nature of genre boundaries. On paper it looks bad, but in practice it’s worse: Skrillex delivers its signature EDM oscillations, and the rhythm is extremely familiar and laborious. Les sounds convincingly like she’s on the verge of tears, but the song’s banalities make it sound like She is featured artist, not the other way around. Much of this brief, inconsequential EP repeatedly fails that way, as if 100 gecs have become peddlers selling counterfeits of their wares.