2019 marks the end of a chaotic and transformative decade in all of our lives, and it seems that everyone is both reflecting on the nostalgia of the significantly more hopeful pre-Trump years while also looking forward to the roaring 2020s with both great excitement and uncertainty. Musically, the 2010s sounded like a lot of things both awesome and terrible. It was a decade that kicked itself off largely fetishizing the sunny 1960s and ended in a blur of wildly original and diverse sounds. If there’s one thing I can say for sure about the wide array of music that came out in the past year, it is that this is the first time in my life where it sounds like I am living in the future, and 100 gecs exemplify that melting-pot futurism claim more than any other artist who put out an album in 2019.
The mysterious, uber-online, St. Louis-by-way-of-Los-Angeles-and-Chicago, post-Sophie dubstep-meets-bubblegum-horror-pop duo seemingly came out of nowhere, rapidly gaining a devoted following of both lovers and haters through homegrown platforms like Rate Your Music, Reddit, and Twitter. 100 gecs are one of the only musical groups I’ve seen achieve widespread icon status without the aid of extensive touring or the support of mainstream media. While 1000 GECS may have ended up as Vice’s (and more importantly our) album of the year and has been heralded as the new beginning of pop by the New York Times, they were picked up by established publications well after surpassing one million plays on Spotify.
100 gecs in 2019 rode a fine line between extreme irony and manic pretension that as a critic as well as an artist I actively struggle to attain. The symbolism that runs through their music and branding is perplexing and often feels like an inside joke that the entire Gec Hive has latched onto without knowing the punchline. Pine trees, unlucky days at the casino, and piss babies adorn the gecs’ merch and coarse through the album’s addictingly nonsensical lyrics. Seeing the duo live was a transcendent, visceral, and just flat-out inexplicable experience. It felt like every niche corner of the internet came together for one of the most unbridled shows I have witnessed since my DC hardcore youth. The energy was far less sophomoric than the average withdrawn show in the greater Los Angeles sprawl, and watching the peculiarity pan out in a mosh pit instead of through headphones showed that 100 gecs is as much of a movement as they are a musical duo. While we may never understand what 100 gecs are pulling from in their music, 1000 GECS is hands down the most provocative, alien album released in my lifetime. Love it or loathe it, they are the starting point from where I believe music will divert in the 2020s. If that direction is even half as entertaining and alluring as what Laura Les and Dylan Brady graced us with this year, I wholeheartedly believe that music’s best is yet to come.