Published Sep 16, 2020Having become known for a certain insouciance and challenging of conventions, it was perhaps not shocking that 7G, producer and PC Music head A. G. Cook's recent 2020 debut full-length, turned out to be a 49-track concept album with sections organized by instrument — a bold choice to say the least. Those yet to emerge from this grand tour (or those interested but reluctant to embark) will likely find their attention drawn irresistibly by his surprise follow-up, the much more obviously brilliant Apple, released a mischievous one month later.
Apple is, frankly, the album many fans were likely secretly disappointed they didn't get with the impressive but unwieldy 7G — that is, a continuation in the style of Cook's previous singles and work for other PC Music artists. Indeed, it's hard to imagine anyone not immediately favouring this excellent album to its predecessor — if 7G was the vast orchard, the diminutively-titled Apple is its ultimate issue, the most fully realized version yet of Cook's iconoclastic take on pop, polished to a sheen.
Much has been written about Cook's allegedly post-ironic style — exasperatingly insincere to some, playfully aloof to others — but Apple honestly comes across as quite serious, with the saccharine melodies and trite vocals of some of Cook's earlier projects gone in favour of a stately gloom that seeps nicely into rockier cuts like "Beautiful Superstar" and "Jumper." Certainly his glitched out vocal style will remain an acquired taste (and Cook lays it on as heavily as ever here), but he continues to occupy a field of his own in this regard, exploring the uncanny valley to its last inch before shooting into the sky on a lead built from vowel sounds — the gorgeous bridge of "Oh Yeah" is a great example of the latter, a starry-eyed solo that's like a leveled-up version of one of Daft Punk's best vocoder moments.
Things do teeter into self-indulgence sometimes (the digital warbling of "Animals" is unlikely to get much extended play), and overall your mileage may vary on some of Cook's more idiosyncratic chirps and quirks, but it's all delivered with such fresh energy and so many original production ideas that it's honestly hard to gripe too much. If you've been vibing on Hannah Diamond's Cook-produced debut Reflections recently and were somewhat baffled by 7G, look no further than Apple, a bold and exciting album that boasts focus as well. (PC Music)