Review of 2014 pt.4 - PC Music

PC Music

Possibly the biggest musical revelation this year for me was the emergence of PC Music. Every time I rave on about it I am forced into the situation where I have to describe what PC Music is. It is hard, but essentially PC Music is: a record label, collective, sound, scene, revolution. It's a bunch of middle class kids who grew up in the nineties and noughties, surrounded by Aqua and 3 Of A Kind and Junior Senior - pop music that was sickly sweet and covered in tack, but at its core really damn good. As the 00s wore on, young people got 'cooler', East London rose to prominence as a hub for trust fund trendsetters and unbearably hip artists and the music of 'cool' became less fun, less innocent, less natural. I feel like PC Music flips all of that on its head. The artists within and affiliated to PC Music each deconstruct pop music in their own way. Each PC Music artist revels in an anonymity that leaves their music distinctly formalist: who gives a fuck who made it, how it is presented or whether it is acceptably 'cool', this is plain good pop music. Amplifying cuteness to an extreme, the music is often deceiving in its presentation - behind its aesthetic are arrangements that are often highly sophisticated and intricately detailed. These artists have lifted the musicianship and professionalism from 'serious' indie music and dropped it into the hollow frame of gooey chart-smashing pop music. A strong awareness of both the mainstream and underground is prevalent, while the music gives nods to everything from 80s balladry, footwork, UK bass and even the avant-garde. Decorated with chipmunk vocals, bubblegum synths and kitsch beats, the sound of PC Music has an often over-bearing sense of humour. And sure it may be simple and sweet on the outside, but there is no doubting the brains of this lot.

Although founded in 2013, the label really exploded this year. GFOTY's 'Secret Mix' was the first PC Music release I ever heard - a nine minute patchwork of infuriatingly good dance music. GFOTY breaks through the boundaries of 'annoying', turning repetitive samples into mesmerisingly percussive loops. In the mix, pop music is stripped to its bare minimum while retaining a clear appreciation for it: she rallies quickly through classics by Celine Dion, Toni Braxton and Carly Simon. Yet this is not ironic, it's sincere and affectionate, a dizzying ode to the pop music everyone secretly loves.

In the phenomenal 'Hey QT', the sound of PC Music stuck its foot in the door of the mainstream. Released on XL (alongside Adele and Thom Yorke, no less), QT's first (and so far only) release was a smash hit. A slight departure from the more experimentally inclined output of early PC Music, 'Hey QT' is an instant classic, ludicrously catchy and a genuine challenge to chart mediocrity.

At the head of it all is A. G. Cook, 24 year old founder of the label and leading innovator in the collective's sound. 'Keri Baby' is a ludicrously catchy song, restlessly flitting between hooks and beeps. Yet it is the richness of the sound and the depth of its arrangement that makes this so good: rather than just settling for a killer hook and being done with it, A. G. Cook decorates every last inch of the song's palette. Hannah Diamond's flawing vocals ("kinda real, kinda oooh") are simply the icing on the very very sugary cake.

And it is Hannah Diamond who is responsible for possibly my favourite track of the year, 'Attachment'. This is a song the defies the already high expectations of PC Music's million-miles-an-hour aesthetic. On 'Attachment', Diamond takes it slow, effectively forming a 'post-ringtone' ballad; a heart-wrenchingly honest song with lyrics that pierce through its playful aesthetic to provide something really emotional, even poignant.

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