There are many amazing groups forming in the underground scene right now, but none have more potential than GENDERGRIND. Sporting a roster containing many of the most exciting artists making Hyperpop-adjacent music in 2021, the uncompromisingly bold collective have delivered their first full length release in the conformity-smashing BINARY KILLER.
Lead single ‘Run It Back’ told me everything that I wanted to know about GENDERGRIND as a collective when it dropped last year. Phixel and Nari contribute the majority of the vocal work on this one, the former contributing a typically sticky hook while the latter unleashes a verse that mixes regret with frustration into one hell of a lyrical cocktail. Button Maker cleans up the track, her braggadocio-infused tone conveyed beautifully by her own impeccable mixing. Boxkitty and Phixel unite on the incredibly cute beat, and overall the track is just as powerful as an album opener as it was as a single.
With seven new songs to enjoy here (second single ‘Headphones’ dropped at the beginning of the year), there was plenty of room for experimentation. ‘Live2D’ follows up ‘Run It Back’ with face-meltingly chaotic production, each of the three artists that worked on the beat also contributed vocally to form a genre-shattering piece of music. dynastic and Button Maker are the loudest presences here, but 3125 also offers her lonely android musings midway through the track. If ever there was a case to be made that Hyperpop is only just beginning to show its true potential as an art form, this is the song to do it. More of the collectoive show up for ‘Headphones’, with the brilliantly-named TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE leading the way and the ever-evolving Big Dimp contributing the final verse. This is a shorter, more simple banger in the vein of ‘Run It Back’, albeit one that swaps out tighter songwriting for four beautifully melodic yet sonically different mini-verses.
As the album progresses, it becomes clear that group CEO Phixel and executive masterer Boxkitty are seeking to push these songs to their absolute limit. ‘senohpdaeH’ is every bit as bombastic as ‘Live2D’, featuring a Phixel/Button production credit that 3125 and in particular dynastic wreak vocal havoc over. ‘Knockout’ is as its core pure chiptune madness (appropriately produced by TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE), yet it sounds slicker and more spacious than any other song in the tracklist. aydanisdead steals the show here, they alongside dynastic are by far the best at channeling 2000’s emo nostalgia in their performances. Right after this is the pop-meets-skate punk of ‘GLITTERGLUE’, a song that brings the best out of the almost bit-crushed sounds of the I Am A Knife/coleslau/Lisa Adiso beat.
Button Maker might steal the show as the album’s best producer, however. ‘Throw My Life Away’ is truly crazy, a hulking behemoth of a track that features the snappiest drums and glitziest keys that BINARY KILLER has to offer. When the screamed vocals come in, the song essentially turns into an I Set My Friends On Fire homage. Conversely, ‘down and out’ is an incredibly bleak song that is also the closest thing here to the sound off Phixel’s solo album Shapes & Colors. This is unmistakably her song, from the sparse production to the morose vocal cadences. The album ends with ‘eVerything’, a massive posse cut starring the majority of the group’s vocalists. Each artist offers their own approach to tackling the poppier songwriting, and everybody sounds immensely happy to be making such a wistful, slightly bittersweet conclusion to this epic nine track album. aydanisdead knocks it out the park with his jaw-dropping production, which is sadly his only credit of this kind on the album. It’s appropriate too that 3125 is the last voice you hear on the album, her distant, robotic echoes transporting the listener to a distant, more comforting place.
I’ve given this album nothing but praise, and I hope I’ve made it abundantly clear that this is not only the greatest group tape of the decade so far but also a benchmark for other collectives of this kind to aspire towards. There’s no weak links, no uneven distribution of roles, and best of all no compromises made in their quest to perfection. Give this project a listen, it might just change your perception of underground music forever.
Listen to the album below.