Last month, the producer AG Cook released his debut album; a 49-track, seven-disc brain dump called 7G. After years honing his synthetic, plastic fantastic strand of pop, released under his divisive PC Music umbrella and expanded via production work for the likes of Charli XCX, Cook threw up some curveballs on his first set. Nestled in among the thundering panic-pop and un-ironic cheese were a clutch of singer-songwritery acoustic sketches including a cover of Blur’s Beetlebum.
That fusion of hyperreality and direct naivety also permeates its 10-track follow-up. So the airy, Ash-referencing, acoustic-led opener Oh Yeah is immediately exploded by Xxoplex, an unholy alliance of pummelling beats, choral chants and pitched vocals. It’s a trick that’s played throughout, with the lo-fi, endearingly cutesy Beautiful Superstar (“you’re beautiful, you’ve got it all”) followed not long after by the abrasive techno instrumental of Airhead.
At times, its tonal shifts cause whiplash, but the real magic appears when Cook manages to coalesce these two sides in the same song. The Darkness, for example, is a gorgeous, straightforward electro-pop love song, while undulating closer Lifeline, featuring Caroline Polachek, may be draped in doom-laden drums and flashes of synth squall but its simple, repeated refrain – “you are my lifeline” – feels increasingly comforting.