Album Review: PC Music | Volume 1
PC Music is pretty damn weird. The UK-based electronic pop music label has gathered a remarkable amount of hype in its short lifespan. Founded in August 2013 by producer A.G. Cook, PC Music (more so than any other well-known artist or label in recent years) falls under the category of love-it-or-hate-it. In my opinion, about 2/3 of the material they release is fantastic; the other third is awful and grating. All of PC Music’s releases generally contain commonalities: British female pitch-shifted voices, bright synthesizers, and sharp hi-hats and kick drums. However, the catalog of artists they have is remarkable, and despite the musical similarities between them, each individual artist is able to carve out a niche within the spectrum of PC Music.
Last week, PC Music released their first official compilation album, PC Music Volume 1. Seven artists within the label contributed to the ten-track album, which essentially serves as a sample platter for everything that PC Music has to offer. While artists within the label like A.G. Cook and GFOTY have released album-length mixes in the past, each track on this album is just that–a track. The opener, Hannah Diamond‘s “Every Night”, includes all the characteristics of PC Music that I outlined earlier. Simply put, it’s a near-perfect pop song. The innocence in the lyrics (“I like the way that you know that I like how you look”) coupled with the layered vocals and clear, but not technically superior, voice of Diamond evoke a better version of Taio Cruz’s pop smash “Dynamite”. If that seems like a strange comparison, it is; PC Music, at it’s poppiest, is most similar to early 2010s pop radio.
A.G. Cook’s tracks are predictably solid; “Beautiful” is very sweet and earnest. While some of PC Music’s releases (most notably producer Sophie) have a tinge of self-awareness, “Beautiful” is yet another pop classic. Later, with “Keri Baby” (which features Diamond), Cook creates what might be the closest thing to a banger that PC Music has released. You won’t like it on first listen, but when the disjointed vocal tracks and fuzzy synths cohere, you’ll be be singing along.
Some of the lesser-known PC Music artists appear on Volume 1 as well, and these tracks are the ones that really set PC Music apart. In particular, Thy Slaughter’s “Bronze” (which is my favorite track PC Music has released to date). The nearly immediate releases from dissonance on this track, and the sheer number of major chords (of which there are A LOT) make this a pop masterpiece. EasyFun‘s “Laplander”, which also appeared on EasyFun’s debut EP Deep Trouble, is a really good dance track. That EP, coming in at almost exactly 10 minutes, shows how an artist within PC Music can offer something unique while continuing to fall within the overarching theme of the label.
Like I said, when PC Music is good, it’s great, but when it’s poor, it’s terrible. GFOTY has two tracks on the album, and I can’t stand either of them. They both feature repeated voice samples, and are just a difficult listen. I do, however, like the concept behind GFOTY’s “Don’t Wanna / Let’s Do It”; it describes the concept of decision-making while impaired very well. Cook’s alter ego Lipgloss Twins appears on the compilation as well, with the track “Wannabe”. It sounds exactly like a GFOTY song, so you can probably guess how I feel about it. Its incoherent vocal samples and seemingly random drum strikes make the track nearly impossible to listen to. It’s on these tracks where I wonder who PC Music tries to appeal to; are they even serious? Is this satirical?
PC Music isn’t for everyone; after listening to Volume 1, you’ll know whether you like them or not. The pop songs are fantastic, and the experimental tracks fall flat.
Five songs I’m listening to this week
Giorgio Moroder | “Deja Vu” (feat. Sia)
Wet | “Deadwater”
Disclosure | “Bang That”
Tame Impala | “Disciples”
Kehlani | “The Letter”