By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director
[PC Music; 2020]
Key tracks: “Oh yeah”, “Beautiful Superstar”, “The Darkness”
Apple is the second full-length album from PC Music founder A.G. Cook. His first LP, 7G, came out less than two months ago and consisted of 49 songs, lasting more than two and a half hours. Apple fits much more neatly into the typical album paradigm, coming in at 10 songs. The sounds on 7G vary from harsh noise to folk, pop and EDM meshes. It feels like a release from a vault of demos and unreleased songs Cook compiled. It makes one hope for a more defined and cohesive pop release on Apple. Is that what we got? Kind of – maybe not.
Apple feels like a miniature version of the colossus 7G is. Consisting of harsh noise and hyper pop songs – beautiful individually – but collectively aren’t any more cohesive than the 49 eclectic songs on 7G.
“Oh Yeah” starts the album optimistically. Beautiful in its simplicity, Cook displays his voice over acoustic guitar. Later, he bursts into atmospheric synth build-ups and angelic harmonies. Cook holds back his experimental sonic crushing abilities, resulting in refreshing simplicity and a display of traditional songwriting skills. “Oh Yeah”, the first single for Apple, sets the tone for an album that differs from Cook’s past production, incorporating acoustic elements and stripped-down song structure.
“Xxoplex” comes directly after “Oh Yeah”. The track bursts the bubble of simple, soft-sounding pop. Harsh, rave-y stabs cut through silence, making way for more gear-grinding cacophony. Shifting gears 😉 towards the end, vocal chops lay over a bed of atmospheric reverb, only to drop away back into the harshness of before.
“Beautiful Superstar” returns to the new precedent set by “Oh Yeah”. Soft and repeating guitar harmonics flutter behind Cook’s soft lyrics. The chorus floods listeners’ ears with a sonic fullness, wrapping around their heads in fuzzy distortion.
Cook sings, “You superstar / You’re beautiful / You’ve got it all wrong / You always knew I wanted you / And now that it’s done / Maybe you wanna fall in love,” perhaps referencing a loved one in his life, though it feels pointed inward. Cook is a beautiful superstar after all, and these two albums may bring him from talented producer to full-fledged pop star status.
“Airhead” can not be left out. Breaking through whatever listening device you are using, the track begins with a luminous cloud of distortion and metallic breaking. Fluttering and shuffling elements of instrumentation wiggle under a softly distorted, almost humanoid vocal, interspersed with harmonies from a more recognizable Cook voice. Despite the complex, intricate beauty of “Airhead”, like many songs on this project, it feels separate from the tracks that take a more acoustic pop-hybrid style.
Most, if not all, songs on Apple shine brightly and beautifully on their own but often feel strange next to other tracks. There are many songs on 7G that match the acoustic electronic-pop style Cook explores, as well as countless songs that push the boundaries of auditory experiences – all which demand presence and experimentality. The songs Cook decides to put on each of his projects is clearly intentional; however, it only makes Apple feel more disjointed than collected.
Ultimately, Cook continues to hone his skills in many new areas and displays a spectrum of his artistic expression that can not be ignored. Though Cook’s next endeavor with this style is eagerly anticipated, without a doubt, Apple is something you should go listen to right now.