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Gabriel Mazza profile image Gabriel Mazza

What Happens at an A. G. Cook Show?

The mastermind behind the PC Music label, Alexander Guy Cook is responsible for bringing hyper-pop into the mainstream music landscape. Fellow writer Maddie and I were lucky enough to catch him live this week at The Underworld in Camden, London, on the second show of a three-night run.

What Happens at an A. G. Cook Show?
A. G. Cook as captured by Sinna Nasseri for Dork Magazine
A. G. Cook - Wikipedia

This certainly wasn’t your run-of-the-mill PC Music night (as some attendees seemed to expect). Next to widely renowned hyperpop tropes (such as ‘Beautiful’ and the recently released ‘Britpop’), Cook also engages in more nuanced songwriting work and vocal-heavy pieces, a sign that the British producer is about to take a deeply transformative step, blossoming from a group leader into a leading artist of his own. Despite the mellower material, everything still reeks of pure hyperpop euphoria; just declined through a more elegant, eclectic, minimal approach.  

Cook doing his thing on Wednesday night at The Underworld, Camden, London

Such an approach did surprise a slice of the audience - a group of peeps behind me wasn’t necessarily keen on Cook’s most ‘song form’ material. But I guess they are just not used to it. Fellow writer Maddie Williams instead appears ready to embrace A. G.’s new phase: 

“In all honesty, I went into the gig as less of an A.G. Cook fan but more of a Casual A.G. Admirer. Yes, I was very much aware of his legacy in pop music, but I only knew a handful of Actual A.G. Cook tracks (ie not remixes) by heart and never listened to a full album (embarrassingly…). But I absolutely fell in love with him through this gig and am now rather hyper-focused on his music because of it! Regardless of the sound translating incredibly live (something I was slightly cautious of when in the toilets at the venue, with the sound of the support act not seeming too pleasant from where I was stood), his almost awkward stage presence and movements actually strengthened his performance and made it rather endearing to watch. I left that gig totally in awe and desperate to buy merch!”

The British producer shared some info about his upcoming album, ‘Britpop’, describing it as “100 minutes long, 24 tracks, lots of material from the present”. Interestingly, it will be released via New Alias, Cook’s new label which stands as a grown-up version of what PC Music was. Again, there is a common thread here - the willingness to turn a page, kickstart a new creative era, and explore wider creative territories. ‘Britpop’ is all of that and more. 

Post-punk-flavoured guitars, fuzzy vocals with autotune, poignant and anthemic textures: that's the new formula. Perhaps, it's a sign of times. Leaving behind his experimental and boundary-breaking youth, Cook enters maturity with something to say - nostalgic and melancholic lyricism which showcases his readiness to grow and evolve. It also speaks volumes about A. G. not wanting to sit on the laurels of his previous successes, rejecting a static approach in favour of continuous creativity.

Speaking about ‘Soulbreaker’ - out the same day - Cook describes it as a tune “from long ago, I had forgotten to put it on streaming services”. It has been available this whole time on Youtube though, as the most loyal listeners will know.

Initially shared on Youtube in May 2021

The show came to a close with an explosive encore, giving the audience what they really wanted: A trail of classic hyperpop hits being mangled and sped up amidst the crowd going absolutely ballistic. This felt like an owed step, in a way, with some peeps impatient to hear them. That’s the payday right there - the money shot, as our friends in the visual arts would call it.

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Gabriel Mazza profile image Gabriel Mazza