A.G. Cook - 7G

  • An opus of pop, covers and electronic experimentation from the PC Music head honcho.
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  • As the founder of PC Music, A. G. Cook is responsible for a world of alternative pop music where everything gets dialed up to 11. But in spite of this, the British artist is a sensitive soul. There were glimmers of it in "Superstar," a Hannah Diamond-assisted track where he debuted his indie-influenced vocal style, and in the soul-baring emo of last year's "Lifeline," whose sincerity would have once seemed like the antithesis of everything PC Music stood for. Cook is a keen A&R, producer, singer-songwriter, session musician and DJ, as well as Charli XCX's creative director. His fingerprints are all over the modern leftfield pop scene, from his work with Caroline Polachek and Jónsi, to the manic electronics of 100 gecs. 7G, which consists of seven themed discs with seven tracks each, is meant to underline this versatility: drum & bass freakouts, acoustic coffee shop crooner songs, covers of The Smashing Pumpkins and Taylor Swift. It's an audacious effort with all the excess and low-brow taste-baiting of PC Music, but underneath it all runs quiet virtuosity. 7G is an album that throws everything at the wall in hopes that most of it will stick. But it's a pleasant listen, like flipping through a scrapbook. PC Music fans will recognize many of these tracks from mixes, teases and live sets over the past few years. Each disc is defined by a certain instrument, including drums and guitar and more specific sounds like a sawtooth oscillator, Nord keyboards or extreme vocals. Listening to the supersaw disc feels like seeing PC Music through an X-ray machine, and some of these songs, like "Illuminated Biker Gang," rank up there with Cook's best material. The Nord disc features the glassy textures of '90s adult contemporary, including a major highlight in the short but beautiful "Crimson." If you like Cook's singer-songwriter side, there's plenty to dig into, including the slide guitar lullaby "Drink Blood," the revealing live version of "Superstar" or the Elliott Smith-style "Being Harsh," with gorgeous guitar playing. Cook is a master of melody, capable of hooks that can hit you over the head as much as they can beckon you into a more intimate, introspective space. If you're not into that side of Cook, the drums disc is up there with his most instantly gratifying work, while the piano and spoken word discs stretch the limits of what those terms can mean. It's the extreme vocals disc that highlights another of A. G. Cook's distinctive talents: his ability to warp the human voice in ways that feel futuristic and alien, even in the hyperpop age. This disc features several of 7G's extremely uneven covers, from the blasé ("Today" by Smashing Pumpkins) to the flat-out absurd, like when he tackles Sia's anthem "Chandelier." On "Chandelier," he's joined by Caroline Polachek, an artist who uses her own operatic voice to mimic the glitchy glint of autotune. It's a duet between one of pop music's most capable singers and one of its most canny manipulators, and it'll either send you running out of the room or melting in admiration. The covers are the stickiest aspect of 7G. Most of them are one-note, more of an "influences" playlist than a collection of worthy interpretations. They weigh down the already heavy album with dead weight, but the hit rate of 7G is remarkably high anyways, a testament to Cook's vision. 7G is a warts-and-all look at one of modern pop music's most intriguing behind-the-scenes figures. It hides nothing, which is radical coming from the man who once antagonized the electronic music world with a style that made irony and sincerity indistinguishable from each other. This album isn't perfect but 7G is a new start, the sound of the dust settling around PC Music and the revealing of a strong musical talent. It feels absurdist in a whole new way: three hours of unguarded expression from modern pop music's unlikely maestro.
  • Tracklist
      01. A-Z 02. Acid Angel 03. H2O 04. Drum Solo 05. Nu Crush 06. Gemstone Break 07. Silver 08. Gold Leaf 09. Being Harsh 10. Undying 11. Drink Blood 12. Lil Song 13. Beetlebum 14. Superstar (Live At Secret Sky) 15. Mad Max 16. Illuminated Biker Gang 17. Soft Landing 18. Overheim 19. DJ Every Night 20. Car Keys 21. Dust 22. Oracle 23. Note Velocity 24. Windows 25. Feeling 26. Waldhammer 27. Polyphloisboisterous 28. Anything Could Happen 29. Behind Glass 30. Oohu 31. The Best Day 32. Triptych Demon 33. Official 34. Crimson 35. Life Speed 36. Could It Be 37. The End Has No End 38. No Yeah 39. Green Beauty 40. Unreal 41. 2021 42. Hold On 43. Today 44. Chandelier 45. Idyll 46. Show Me What (with Cecile Believe) 47. Somers Tape 48. Crimson And Clover 49. Alright 50. 7G (7 Minute Mix)