The future, then. The sound of pop eating itself, throwing up into a bag and then getting a spoon and digging in. A mash-up of everything — largely very sickly EDM, but also trance, house, power ballads, industrial techno, soft rock, winsome acoustic guitar. Meticulous to the point of almost derangement, endlessly inventive both musically and rhythmically, full of arch puns. Such as the album’s title here — Apple. Mr Cook is the boss of the record label PC Music. Geddit? Sides splitting? That’s the other thing — the future also promises to be very irritating.
What you cannot doubt is A.G. Cook’s nerdish attention to detail, nor the crucial thing overlooked too often — he writes a good tune, as in the opener here, ‘Oh Yeah’, which is simultaneously utterly inane and pretty. The inanity is part of the point, I think, the banal lyrics twisted out of shape (as usual) by Cook’s favourite thing, a vocoder. And yet it works. ‘Xxoplex’ begins with the silly, brutal rhythm of a football chant affixed to house anthem chords, then stops to allow unexpected operatic warbling. It’s what Cook’s critics would call self-consciously experimental. ‘Stargon’, perhaps the strongest track, merges a repetitive electronic motif with a luxurious melody. ‘Airhead’ is bursts of white noise, while on ‘Haunted’ he is back to the sensitively strummed acoustic, slightly electronically distorted. His last album 7G — also this year — was largely a series of covers of quite bad music, including Taylor Swift. It kind of worked, but this is better. ‘Hyperpop’ is the term that Cook revels in for his music. I like it. But there are plenty who would say the term is too long by a total of four letters.