SOPHIE and A.G. Cook make electronic music on the fringes of pop, dance, experimental and good taste. Their detractors would likely describe their productions as annoying, cheesy, occasionally hideous—and their proponents would almost certainly agree with them: "Well that's kind of the point, isn't it." Rather than carve out an aesthetic safe haven from the digital detritus floating all around us, SOPHIE and Cook (along with his PC Music cohorts/proxies/likely aliases) embrace and amplify it, making a hyper-glossy racket that Joe Moynihan, in FACT's recent PC Music primer, described as "at once a celebration and batshit insane parody." I appreciate contrarianism and can stomach quite a lot of cheese, but projects like these tend to make me queasy. Does an airtight concept mitigate the fact that the music is, all artistic intent aside, kind of heinous? Is this embrace of the blatantly unsophisticated a form of catharsis, or is it just a snide art-school prank?
"Hey QT," the first fruit of SOPHIE and Cook's XL Recordings-signed collaboration, shines a light on the music that's often hid behind their overpowering aesthetic. It's all juicy hooks and clarified EDM synths and pure joy, and it feels refreshingly free of pastiche or artistic posturing. To have heard it is to have gotten it dangerously stuck in your head, and I worry that "Hey QT" could wear out its welcome before DJs have a chance to play this weekend. But QT sounds like it's got legs: the collaboration pulls each producer in the other's direction—SOPHIE's razor-edged production warms up as it shaves away the ample irony that's long been fixed to Cook's pop songwriting—and they come out stronger for it. If you've hated them all along, "Hey QT" won't change that. For everyone else, it's the most charismatic and wholly likeable track either artist has had a hand in.