Take in all of “1000 gecs” — the debut album by the band 100 gecs — in one sugar-rush gulp. Gorge on it. Let it pummel your ears from the outside, and rattle your brain from the inside. To listen to this album is to cede a certain amount of control, and to accept that letting go of the wheel is not only freeing, but maybe inevitable, too.
The invigorating, breathless “1000 gecs” is a pure palate annihilator of an album — 10 songs, 23 minutes, easily more than 100 reference points. This is high-energy dance-pop, but filtered through an armory of touchstones that are so recent as to barely be memories — the Technicolor, spasmodic, thrashing punk-rap of Brokencyde; the hyperdigital electro-pop-punk of 3OH!3 and Breathe Carolina; the arena-sized dubstep of Skrillex.
But none of these antecedents properly sets the tone for the way 100 gecs rifles through ideas — rapidly, wantonly, chaotically, vividly. Nothing is ever settled. Songs shift gears dozens of times, in a way that recalls the glitchy but still pop-minded electronic-music shards of Kid606, or Venetian Snares’ anxiety-inducing sheets of shimmering techno.
A song like “stupid horse” begins with late-2000s Warped Tour excess and ends somewhere closer to Dr. Demento. One of the best songs here, “xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx,” opens up like the bridge-and-tunnel megaclub music of the mid-to-late 2000s — think Cascada, or Kim Sozzi — and is soon jolted by a dubstep drop as tough as anything Skrillex ever made. The opening seconds of “I Need Help Immediately” may well be a nod to Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie,” a viral rap hit of 2010.
100 gecs is a duo, Dylan Brady and Laura Les, who met in the D.I.Y. electronic-pop scene in St. Louis. (Les now lives in Chicago, and Brady lives in Los Angeles and collaborates with Diplo, among others, as a producer.) This is the second 100 gecs release, following a self-titled EP from 2016 that was more rigorous and less ambitious than the new album.
Historically, musicians who specialize in unlikely collisions — any iteration of rap-rock, or country-rap, for example — are often maligned, as if their alchemy were the stuff of confusion, not intention. But the warp-speed juxtapositions that 100 gecs deploys move their music past hybrid into something genuinely recombinant.
And also exhilarating — these songs pulse with joy and vitality. If anything, the collision of sounds is a distraction from the fact that “1000 gecs” is, at its core, an astonishingly sweet album. All the vocals are run through intense layers of processing, landing anywhere from chipmunk house to grindcore. Les, especially, writes vividly and petulantly about spineless partners. On “800db cloud,” she squeals, “I might go and throw my phone into the lake, yeah/It ain’t hard to quit caring what you think, yeah.” And on “money machine” — the video for which helped spur a recent burst of attention to 100 gecs — she’s shouting but it’s hard to feel mad.
“You talk a lot of big game for someone with such a small truck/Aw, look at those arms,” she says. “They look like little cigarettes/I bet I could smoke you.”
Amid the guttural rhythmic poetry of heavy industrial equipment and obsolete computer consoles, lyrics like these are cheerful affirmations. There is sentiment at play here — not just in the words, but also in the faster-than-the-internet sonic chaos. Each jolt is a new feeling, and each feeling is a reminder that magic is all around, waiting to be grabbed.