With ‘10,000 Gecs,’ 100 Gecs Hit a New Peak in Absurdist Pop Genius: Album Review

One of the ironies about the rise of 100 Gecs — who have become poster children for “hyper-pop,” whether they want to be or not — is the fact that their hyperactive music, which is filled with lyrical and sonic pranks, changes direction every few seconds and has melodies that are like bubblegum pop through a garish Instagram filter, is being feted for its pretty undeniable brilliance.

Critics slather over them, they signed a deal with Atlantic Records, were the subject of in-depth profiles in the New Yorker and the New York Times, and were even artists in residence at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. While it’s not hard to imagine the hardly-serious duo of Laura Les and Dylan Brady doubled over with laughter when these things started happening, now it’s almost like the joke’s on them.

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Strangest of all, this adulation has taken place largely without new music. Since the May 2019 release of “1000 Gecs” — the galvanizing debut album that announced their arrival to the wider world with a comically autotuned jolt — they’ve dropped a remix album, a Christmas single (about robbing Santa Claus, of course), a few features and a three-song EP that is just over six minutes long. Odder still, the 10 songs on their new LP have clearly been finished for a long time — they played most of them on a fall 2021 tour and at Coachella last April.

Whatever the delay, “10,000 Gecs” has finally arrived — and shows the duo aren’t taking it all too seriously. The critics’ narrative is that they’ve “gone rock,” and yes, this album has a lot of metallic guitars (or at least impressively sampled metal guitars) and hard-hitting real drums. But it’s actually a very logical progression from their previous work… as logical as things can be in Gec World, anyway. There’s a ska-like diversion on “Frog on the Floor” (which is just as ridiculous as it sounds), a punk-pop chorus on “Hollywood Baby,” and even a (sort of) foray into twisted reggae with “The Most Wanted ,” which incorporates the oft-sampled bassline from Wayne Smith’s “Under Me Sleng Teng” and features the line “Anthony Kiedis / S—kin’ on my p—s.”

And the music is as casually genius as ever, arguably reaching its innovative peak on “Doritos and Fritos” (absurd as that sounds) with a riff that is an almost mathematically precise pileup of metallic guitar harmonics and feedback, and some hilarious ghost-moans and grunts that I guess you could consider backing vocals. On “757,” it’s hard to tell if a segment is Les’ voice through a twisted autotune or a Van Halen-style finger tapping guitar solo.

The duo romp through 10 songs in 23 and a half minutes — but there’s so much going on that the album feels considerably longer than it actually is. The longest song, the preposterous “I Got My Tooth Removed” — about exactly that — goes from off-key power ballad to ska pastiche to hyper-punk to anguished autotuned power ballad and back, adding and shedding musical elements every couple of seconds.

100 Gecs pack more ideas into 23 minutes than most artists who release 70+-minute-long albums. With “10,000 Gecs,” the duo has reached a “South Park” level of brilliant absurdity.

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