Liz Foster ’22
A typical semester for the Tripod entails album reviews, profiles on artists, and suggestions for what to bump in the car, dorm, or bedroom. However, this semester, I raided Arts and Entertainment with pseudo-comedic commentaries rather than staying true to the work that captivated me back in high school. Alas, this small but mighty collection of albums is my best offer to make up for my deficient amount of musical recommendations.
The Front Bottoms – The Front Bottoms
Pop punk has grown into a miserable reputation as seemingly countless artists are exposed for predatory, abusive, or generally problematic behavior. The genre reigned supreme throughout the early aughts and into the mid 2010s as bands like (pre-hiatus) Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and Taking Back Sunday grew devoted fan bases. Bobbing bass players, crashing cymbals, and strained, arguably grating, voices characterized the genre, straddling the thin line separating it from emo.
The Front Bottoms represent a quintessential piece of New Jersey pop punk. Lead singer Brian Sella’s whiny voice is complimented by plucky, minimalist guitars. The focus immediately falls on the self-pitying, confused, and lovelorn protagonist of each song. Sellla captures the act’s sweet, simple charm as croons, “I would play more than just four chords if it’s a song you might like” on “Jim Bogart” from the group’s 2014 project Rose. Their discography is riddled with hopeless romanticism and the existentialism of a teenager despite the artists’ being in their mid-20s.
The Front Bottoms self-titled debut album shines as a golden piece of early 2010s pop punk. Staples like “Twin Size Mattress,” which examines a broken and addiction riddled friendship, and “The Beers,” an ode to the willingness to change for a lover, offer a reflection on a youth-hood contemplating identity, purpose, and muddled love stories. “When I’m sad, oh God I’m sad/but when I’m happy, I am happy,” sings Sella on “Flashlight” as he rips open the darkest folds of his brain to expose his fear of growing into a purposeless life. The album tears into the heart, recreating the sensations of feeling, fear, and confusion that follow us from sentient teenage years into a semblance of adulthood. The desperation in Sella’s voice is heartful, he wastes no energy on “sounding good,” but rather on conveying the raw emotions in his wistful, introspective words. The Front Bottoms serves not only as a fantastic intro into the group’s discography, but also as an introduction into 2010s pop punk.
1000 Gecs – 100 Gecs
The almost-self-titled 1000 Gecs by 100 Gecs, a duo consisting of Dylan Brady and Laura Les, catapulted to the forefront of internet culture as their songs trending on the “alt” side of Tik Tok. 1000 Gecs caught my attention shortly after its 2019 release as 100 Gecs’ debut studio album. I’ve previously referred to the screeching sounds found throughout the album, particularly on “Hand Crushed by a Mallet,” as a sonic mix of Death Grips and NeverShoutnever as Les and Brady’s vocals are fried under autotune. 100 Gec’s most successful song to date, i “Money Machine,” opens with a twenty second monologue where Les insults an unknown audience with lines like: “You talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck.”
There’s an explosive energy throughout 1000 Gecs even on more somber tracks such as “800 db cloud” where Les sings about a lost love as Brady speaks on drug use, claiming “ I got a bag on the way/Smokin’ a zip in a day.” Similarly, “gec 2 U” fixates on a lover who asks desperately, “can you get to me now?” as pitched drums and bass explode underneath the duo’s auto tuned voices.
The Gecs sound and brand turns away a plethora of listeners, thus leading their audience to be a large collection of folks passionate about the broad and ever-growing genre dubbed “hyperpop.” Defined by synthy, hyper-pitched, robotic noises, or as Charli XCX once said of a song produced by Brady: “monster trucks having sex,” the genre has grown more popular as fansstray away from bubblegum pop and traditional electronic music. For a full bodied musical experience, give 1000 Gecs a listen.
Good News – Megan thee Stallion
Good News, the latest release from Houston Hot Girl Megan thee Stallion, solidifies the twenty five-year-old’s place as a powerhouse in the world of rap. She opens the album by calling out fellow rapper Tory Lanez. Earlier this summer Lanez made headlines for his attack on Megan where he shot her in the foot, hence the song’s title “Shots Fired”; she obliterates him on the track, putting him in the rap-grave without ever mentioning his name.
Megan demonstrates the prowess to have kept Good News as an entirely solo project, yet her features are well-placed with exceptional chemistry. She links up with DaBaby, the only rapper to keep up with her raunchy, overtly sexual energy, for “Cry Baby,” a simplistic banger with haunting vocals offsetting the rappers’ classic flows. The duo’s performance on 2019’s “Cash Shit” proved their unstoppable power as a unit. She dominates the Tay Keith produced beat on “Movie ft. Lil Durk,” rapping about ass-eating and stripping; meanwhile, she brags, and rightfully so, about her body as “so out of this world/ Change my @ name to ASTROGIRL (ASTROGIRL),” on “Don’t Stop ft. Young Thug.” Megan invites players to join her team, but is consistently thee MVP.
Megan thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl” attitude has created an army of young girls and women who own their sexuality, challenging the notion that only male rappers are sex obsessed, bag chasing “bosses.” She consistently flips the rap narrative on its head, avoiding vicitization under the “male gaze”as she objectifies and demeans the men she has sex with. Megan follows the motto established by Queendome Come on KingBeats’ song “Then Leave”: get that bread, get that head, then leave. Good News is only one more collection of smashes that establish Megan’s reign over the rap industry.