Release Date: May 2, 2015
Record label: N/A
Genre(s): Pop, Electronic
This is where A.G. Cook’s PC Music collective, whose exuberantly subversive singles and radio mixes operate outside of salable constrictions, gets audited for iTunes approval. So let’s slash our expectations: Sophie and QT are signed to Numbers and XL respectively, a technicality that may be easy to ignore when Dropboxing a custom-curated mix of the collective’s best, but which sadly entails eliminating Internet quasi-hits “Hey QT,” “Bipp,” “Lemonade,” and “Hard” from the eligible pool on PC Music Volume 1.
What are they trying to say, and how sincere is their message? These questions have often cropped up in responses to London-based label and collective PC Music. Plenty of music makes its way out into the world without ever having such questions asked of it. But from the start PC Music's members have made sound just a part of their toolkit. Presentation and persona have been wielded as readily as chords and melodies, inline with the art-school idea that pop isn't just a musical style, but a vessel for coded postures, statements and ideas.But there's another side to PC Music too, one not concerned with concept or provocation, but simply devoted the craft of making pop songs.
PC Music Volume 1 is anti-physical music for an anti-physical time. Like everything that A. G. Cook’s London-based label’s released since 2013, these 10 songs are invocations of the hyperreal, created to meet the anxieties of an age where bodies are rarely written about as sites of joy or authenticity, and more frequently discussed as zones of inequity, violence, embarrassment and pain.
For a certain subset of people who spend a lot of time online, A.G. Cook’s “Beautiful” was the song of 2014. The Soundcloud-only single arrived from PC Music last summer full of vocal chirps and chintzy synths, accompanied by a CGI render of a soft, pearly mass on the cover. If music has an uncanny valley, PC Music hits its deepest crease.
Review Summary: Inanity insanityPC Music has been a viral phenomenon for almost two years at this point, and it’s still unclear why the internet continues to lose its collective shit whenever anything remotely newsworthy related to the label (erm, excuse me, ”collective”) comes to be. The artists under A. G. Cook’s umbrella tend to inspire either utter adulation or unadulterated fury, and it’s particularly interesting to note the unintelligibility and blathering that’s come to characterize almost any reaction within these two opposite poles.Take, for example, the unusually vibrant comment section for Resident Advisor’s review of QT’s “Hey QT” (QT is a project created by Cook and frequent friend of PC Music SOPHIE).
PC Music is the brainchild of London producer A. G. Cook, one of the minds behind last year's online hit "Hey QT," a supercatchy wad of synthetic bubblegum sung by a virtual starlet marketing a fake energy drink. That same aesthetic is all over this collection of singles (most of them offered for free online over the last couple of years), from the tween-dream surrealism of Hannah Diamond's "Every Night" to GFOTY's party-droid satire "USA." Cook deploys mind-drillingly simple beats and pitch-shifted, incessantly repeated diva chirps to make music with all the humanity of a Tinder swipe — not the worst comment on mediated desire in 2015.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Downtown Boys’ activist punk and J Fernandez’ lush psychedelia.
Much of the attention around polarizing London-based collective PC Music has focused on how it functions as a brand, art project and consumerist critique. Without knowing any of that, this debut compilation would still sound like the most confrontational pop album of the year. In part, that's its appeal. The other part is its clear ambition to succeed as pop music.