We’re living in a post–pop world. Yes, that’s a contradictory statement. The idea of “popular music” simply refers to music that is, well, popular. Attaching the prefix of “post,” then, is a meaningless exercise: our notion of pop music changes as mainstream consumer preferences change. Through the 2010s, however, a variety of artists and labels have deconstructed pop music by shattering songs to reveal their barest elements, creating their own unique, semi–ironic masterpieces in the end. These songs are often harsh and difficult to listen to. They’re also absolute bangers. What better label is there for this than post–pop?
The most influential post–pop artists are associated with the PC Music record label. Headed by AG Cook, these collaborators include SOPHIE, Charlie XCX, and, more recently, 100 gecs, among others. 100 gecs have since gone on to start their own label, Dog Show Records, to foster a new generation of post–pop producers. The most recent album from Dog Show Records, gupi’s None, is heavily influenced by more traditional electronic genres, but nonetheless an exhilarating thrillride of maximalist club tracks. It’s an extremely promising debut from an exciting new artist signed to a label poised to dominate their niche of a world.
None sounds like someone asked 100 gecs to color inside the lines. The labelmates share a sonic palette, with gupi opting for more restraint. But don’t be mistaken: this restraint is never at the expense of the music's energy or creativity. But where 100 gecs jumps around from genre to genre, gupi tends to draw primarily from bubblegum bass, house, and dubstep music. Still, there are a few exceptions: on the bridge of album opener and titular track “None,” an acoustic guitar briefly takes over. It’s heavily pitch–shifted and looped, of course, but it’s a nice break from the otherwise nonstop dance beats.
The word “nonstop” isn’t used lightly here. Once you click play on this album, there are no breaks, no fadeouts, no chances to catch your breath. Occasionally, this is to the album’s detriment. The tempo rarely drops below 144 bpm, and it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish where one track ends and another begins. But as long as you aren’t listening to this music on a plane while writing a somewhat serious review, it won’t matter. This isn’t chill music meant for studying or relaxing. This is music to rave to while waiting for the molly to hit.
Lead single “Thos Moser (with Fraxiom)” is None’s stand–out track. It perfectly represents the idea of post–pop. Fraxiom’s vocals are filtered and feminized, the pre–chorus buildup features dissonant, distorted bass–lines, and the hook includes the line “Fuck Notch, Fuck Musk, and I’ll piss on Zedd.” It’s a funny throwaway diss, but also quite representative of the aesthetic of post–pop artists. Take traditional elements of pop or electronic music, run them through a billion filters, and laugh at (or in this case, piss on) everyone who doesn’t get it. At the end of the day, “Thos Moser,” to put it plainly, goes hard.
Other highlights include “Modest” and "Paradise," where gupi utilizes a Laura Les–esque vocal filter to create sugar–sweet hooks which perfectly compliment the balls–to–the–wall production, and “Driving Directly Into a Concrete Wall,” which dips its toes into an oily puddle of industrial noise music centered around several mind–blowing dubstep beat drops.
The next time you’re getting ready for a night out, put this album on. If you aren’t already familiar with the styling of similar post–pop artists, it may sound weird. But in today’s music scene, weird is good. Weird is fun. Weird is fresh. And weird is the new mainstream.