Image by Julian Buchan
Hyperpop has been having an uncharacteristically sombre moment. The death of one of its most promising progenitors early in the year has left an undeniable void, and lately little can be said of the genre without acknowledging SOPHIE’s absence. What better way to restart the party than with a highly anticipated release from one of the genre’s iconic pioneers? Taken from this vantage, A.G. Cook’s remix album Apple vs 7G, released via PC Music, marks a welcome return to the vapid ecstasy synonymous with the genre. Apple vs 7G sees tracks from last year’s epic 49 track long 7G and the more concise Apple reworked by a bevy of friends and frequent collaborators, including Caroline Polachek, Boys Noize and EASYFUN.
The collection includes the much anticipated Charli XCX collaboration and previously released lead single, the aptly titled XOXOPLEX remix, XCXOPLEX. Opening with revving synths, it bubbles over with machine-like stabs which bounce in space to form an ecstatic percussive backdrop for XCX’s unmistakable cadence. Doused in robotic effects, XCX’s masterful pop hooks weave seamlessly into Cook’s production, providing a melodic reprieve from the chaos. With its dazzling rollout, XCXOPLEX was seemingly positioned as Apple vs 7G’s brightest star; but when taken alongside some of the album’s clear standouts, it is by no means the shiniest moment. There is Ö & Canblaster‘s remix of Airhead, which takes the stuttering bass and chopped vocal samples of the original to extreme places with a rapid fire beat and twisted computer noises, and then Kai Whiston’s take on 7G’s Oohu with it’s dubstep adjacent synths and triumphant, trance driven outro. Both deliver on the kind of absurdity and maniacal energy expected from an album of hyperpop remixes of hyperpop songs.
Other notable standouts include the contributions from Boys Noize and Max Tundra. Boys Noize takes Apple’s Stargon, which in its original form is basically an extended moog riff lost in deep space, and adds an industrial dungeon techno beat behind the refrain to filthy results. It’s also a good tonal shift in the track list, which up until this point is dominated by introspective rave synths and choruses. Max Tundra refreshes 7G’s Soft Landing, with a remix that somehow goes from indie-jazz to acid house to dark synthwave in a remarkably inspired manner.
Evidently, there’s a lot going on in terms of sonic influence. There’s garage breakbeats on DJ Every Night (DJ Warlord Every Night Remix) and Eartheater’s remix of The Darkness, early EDM on Doss’s brilliant turn on Airhead, 80’s power-pop balladry on Lifeline (Ö Remix) and plenty of Top 40 worthy melodies throughout. Mostly though, there is an undeniable focus towards the music trends of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The collection opens with Caroline Pollacheck’s take on the 00’s guitar-pop of Oh Yeah, adding a filtered bagpipe melody and distorted drum beat. Alongside bursts of a grimy electric guitar riff and her own Cranberries-esque vocal harmonies, Polacheck’s reimagining emphasises the underlying influence of Blink182 style pop-punk already present in Oh Yeah’s DNA and sets the table for Apple vs 7G’s nostalgic teen spirit.
This nostalgia runs throughout Apple vs 7G, with many of the remixes taking their cue from Cook’s melodies and hooks which largely reflect the bygone era of punk and grunge driven teen pop. In this regard the aesthetic quality of Apple Vs 7G feels, on occasion, surprisingly restrained. Sure, there are plenty of liquid rubber warbles and galvanised synth stabs but these sounds, while hyperbolic, are never quite oversaturated to their limits on some of the tracks. As far towards kitsch abstraction as hyperpop remixes are notoriously known to go, here they mostly operate by staying earnest to the source material.
This approach does make the album feel excessive at points. There are multiple remixes of the same songs, such as three re-workings of The Darkness and two each for XOXOPLEX and 2021, and with the majority working in similar ways they tread close to feeling like unnecessary repeats. At 28 tracks, it feels bloated with room to trim. But then, this opinion likely misses the point entirely. As an exercise in refuelling a genre synthesised from overt maximalism, Apple Vs 7G exceeds alarmingly and is a welcome reminder of the giddy excitement that comes with an event album. Apple vs 7G is available to download here. Listen to the set below: