2020 was a transformative year for pop music, to say the least. An increased interest in the hyperpop genre, paired with a much more flexible outlook on what is considered “pop” in the first place, has opened the doors for many new ideas and artists to gain mass followings. In the front and center of this hyperpop-hysteria has been Laura Les and Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs. Apart from her work in the duo, though, Les has carved a name for herself in the industry, producing for artists such as Rico Nasty and releasing a number of solo works along the way.
In her new single, “Haunted,” Les writes of lost hope toward herself and the rest of humanity, contrasted by an instrumental that one might find while adventuring through Bowser’s Castle. Originally released at the A2B2 “Night of Fire” digital concert in November of last year, Les’ demo of “Haunted” received an immensely positive response from concertgoers. Flash-forward four months later: After much prodding from Les’ fanbase, she released a finalized version of the single to streaming services, accompanied by an off-putting music video of herself losing her mind in an alley with a ghost towering behind her.
Straying from the singer-songwriter influences of her older solo works, such as “How to Dress as Human,” Les seems to embrace a much more Gec-adjacent production style, relying solely on electronic instrumentals, while simultaneously embracing an odd form of minimalism. With only a few tracks — Les’ vocals, a sawtooth bass, slightly distorted sine bells and a simple electro-drum pattern — “Haunted” somehow creates an entirely immersive, eerie listening experience from almost-nothing.
Paired with her unique production is Les’ incredibly simple, yet enticing vocals and lyricism. With lines such as, “I’ve been up for three days, everything is haunted/ Everybody’s evil and there’s bugs inside the carpet,” Les uses basic song structures in order to express complex emotions to her listeners. The unique vocal effects used by Les only add to this emotional expression. On top of her usual autotuned and pitched-up vocals, Les uses an intense delay on her voice in the choruses of the single, leaving the end product unintelligible. The untranslatable lyrics of the chorus force the listener to become disoriented, tagging onto the overall themes of distrust and melodrama that are prominent throughout the song’s entirety.
Though very different from much of Les’ past solo works, “Haunted” is just as good, if not an improvement upon her musical stylings. Les has created a single that is almost addictive — an obvious amalgamation of 100 Gecs’ skyrocketing popularity paired with her unique writing processes and tastes. With each listen, Les’ audience is granted with small hooks and lyrical Easter eggs that are impossible to all pick up on during one’s first go. Although it deals with heavy subject matter, the song never feels like a downer and can be played on repeat without hesitation. Even with the extremely polarizing nature of the song (and the genre of hyperpop in general), “Haunted” is an incredible single, bound to please 100 Gecs’ audience and general music lovers alike.