In the seven years since Laura Les and Dylan Brady first released music as 100 gecs, they’ve been elevated to the patron saints of hyperpop: musically chaotic and poly-gluttonous, profoundly specific and yet totally random, ideal vessels of the 21st-century’s post-pastiche pop culture. Theirs is the sound of a zillion infostreams from the depths of your social feeds shooting into your eyes at once, both poisoned by irony and aware that if you follow irony into its own ouroboros, you will discover the antidote.
As dirtbag omnivores with identical peroxide dye jobs, they’ve been deified by the Discord masses, valiantly representing the depressive, blue-collar, white, queer kids alienated by their small towns for being “freaks.” In the video for 10,000 gecs’ pop-punk lead single “Hollywood Baby,” the lyric “at the crib goin’ crazy” is visualized by Les and Brady lighting fireworks in the kind of shitty house you might rent on the cheap when you’re 23—it’s busted and the toilet probably doesn’t work, but you love it because it’s yours. A few decades ago, a person feeling ostracized in their hometown might have just moved to barely-affordable cities like New York or the Bay. Now they can delve into the warm crevasses of the weird internet, to see and be seen and indulge every impulse.
With 10,000 gecs, Les and Brady have the unenviable task of translating their chaotic hyperpop to a major label, all while pickling their madcap sound experiments just enough to evolve. Underlying this is the fact that they are big-ass music nerds, virtuosic, even—the kind who could have been studio academics with Berklee degrees if they’d made a different choice in the multiverse. 10,000 gecs telegraphs that their potentially larger ambitions—a chart hit in the footsteps of Sum 41, say—may not fundamentally change their ethos, but it has furthered their interest in thrash guitars, ska revival, and pop-punk that generally sounds quantum-leaped in from a turn-of-the-century Hot Topic. You thought you loved computer glitch but, my friends, have you met slap bass?
Opening song “Dumbest Girl Alive” is 10,000 gecs’ big statement piece, turbo-charged with thrash metal riffs and stoned sub-bass, and it dunk-tanks us into what we’re in for. Les, snarling from a depressive perch, frames proper phone etiquette as a mortal threat (“Yeah, I’ll fuckin text you back!”) and shouts out plastic surgery (“I did science on my face”), but also gives us a decent thesis for gecs’ whole thing: “I’m smarter than I look/I’m the dumbest girl alive.” It’s a deceptive anthem, in that it’s so stupid and fun but also melancholy and self-denigrating, with a request to “put emojis on my grave.” It’s followed by a more traditional gecs number, “757,” glimmering with technicolor glitch and further chagrin, as Les voices a conflicted internal monologue: “I’m dumb and hypocritical/I’m taking things too literal/When it was hypothetical.”
On the surface, gecs are the least serious group this side of early-’90s Ween, always game for a deceptively asinine good time. That the few samples on this album come from Cypress Hill, Scary Movie, and Lucasfilm, in the form of the THX Deep Note, tell you all you need to know: The internet is an earwig that has broken millennials’ brains. 10,000 gecs sounds like being hit in the face with pies for approximately 26 minutes, two best friends having the greatest time throwing all the dankest shit from their musical file cabinet at you while you accept your ridiculous fate. It’s a reevaluation of the most declassé and dunderheaded rock genres that roiled the 2000s, positing that when it’s not delivered by misogynistic frat guys, it can be terrific music. 100 gecs are speaking to and for the regressive ids of us all; dumb shit should be inclusive too. This is a discomfiting and liberating revelation for those of us whose hangover from the era is still acute. At least younger listeners hearing these genres for the first time will be spared the green sky.
100 gecs’ aesthetic, of course, is to throw shit at the wall until it slithers down in a slimy, glittery goop. “Billy Knows Jamie,” a paranoid meditation on a homicidal stalker, is a fairly straightforward number based on bass chunking and turntable scratches that sounds a lot like Limp Bizkit until it spirals out into its death-metal outro. “One Million Dollars” is that phrase repeated ominously over a cut-and-paste sound sketch of drum machine, funk-metal bass, grunge guitar, and clipped dubstep, a frenetic warning that a million dollars rules, but actually might kind of suck. On the brilliant “The Most Wanted Person in the United States,” a laff riot written from the perspective of a serial killer on the lam, Brady and Les trade verses about imaginary victims over a pitched-down iteration of dancehall’s iconic Sleng Teng riddim, and include the lyric “I got Anthony Kiedis/Suckin’ on my penis.”
I mean, it rhymes! But as an evocation, it aligns 100 gecs with the boneheaded horniness of early Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sloughing off a large amount of the glitch, gecs seem to aim evermore in that general greasy direction: Primus, Mike Patton, Ween, with all the unevenness that implies. The ska-punk revival joint, “I Got My Tooth Removed,” is more Reel Big Fish than Sublime, but it’s still a good time, even if it conjures mean SoCal boys singing thickheaded lyrics about scene girls. (Its mournful lyrics about dental care—it’s a break-up song about a tooth extraction—are both reclamation and send-up of exactly how ignorant and sexist some of those songs were.) The unifying factor here, as ever, is their cleverness. It’s the type of absurdist sensibility that, if it came from a friend, might inspire you to put your hand on their back and lovingly ask if they’re doing okay. But here, that emotional wall is the gag, like when you want to play the rubbery lullaby “Frog on the Floor” for a small child, except then you’d have to explain what a kegstand is.
In the gecs’ worldview, nothing is serious and yet every chord change is deeply felt, which, after a few listens, may be a bit more interesting in concept than execution. At the same time, this album is so short that you might only come to that conclusion after running it back for the twenty-third time, by which point you’re hitting repeat on the janky car stereo while you’re chain-vaping a nicotine flavor called “Watermelon Brizz Ice,” you’re mainlining Monster Energy drink and moshing solo in your living room until it hurts, you’re copping $600 Collina Strada jeans embellished to look like Ed Hardy’s brainwaves, you’ve got your face entombed in a VR headset and you’re wondering whether you still have a torso, you just want to hug your friends even though they haven’t bathed in weeks. 10,000 gecs is something like astral projection, allowing you to ever-so-briefly shake off the constant doom scroll of life for a hot second of unencumbered fun. In that sense, it’s a perfect outro album for the end of the world, a reminder that in the worst-case scenario, we might as well go out mindless and partying.
All products featured on Pitchfork are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.