REVIEW: A. G. Cook’s New Mixtape Dream Logic Features Some Solid Remixes and Serious Earworms
Thursday greeted us with the surprise unveiling of a new cover from PC Music founder A. G. Cook; a reworking of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” in his signature glossy, brash hyperpop stylings. More exciting than this, though, was the coupled announcement of a surprise mixtape hitting Soundcloud the following day titled Dream Logic. Cook already had a majorly productive 2020, releasing two albums, including the two-and-a-half-hour-long, seven-disc-spanning 7G. Both projects had some high highs, like “Soft Landing” and “Xxoplex,” and explored other genres that Cook hadn’t publicly touched yet, like emo and indie pop. If he has more to share, I’m not going to complain.
Dream Logic is the sensible culmination of such a tremendous recent output. In the mixtape, Cook revisits songs from both 7G and Apple, remixing them to fit the Dream Logic sound. And a Dream Logic sound there surely is. Like an even more futuristic Random Access Memories on Adderall, it has a somewhat consistent eurodance sensibility while furthering the signature hyperpop sound that Cook has come to be known for. Though it lacks much original material, the reworkings are frequently stunning and showcase why Cook is as successful as he is.
If the comments under the mixtape on Soundcloud are any indication, A. G. continues to be the light to which Charli XCX’s little moths flock to on sight, based on the strength of their previous collaborations (which, at this point, is most of her post-Sucker career). Charli icons and popper-themed usernames proliferate his entire account. Fortunately for us, we have little reason to be disappointed here. There are three tracks featuring Ms. XCX; a remix of “Xxoplex,” retitled as “Xcxoplex,” and two remixes of her recent track with No Rome and The 1975, “Spinning.” “Xcxoplex” is a clear highlight of the mixtape. It retains the hard, abrasive opening of the original track, while adding in a classically euphoric Charli chorus. It displays the best of them both. For the “Spinning” remixes, there’s the “A. G. Cook Remix” and the “A. G. Club Mix.” If you read my last piece reviewing the original mix of “Spinning,” you won’t be surprised to hear that I love both of these remixes a lot. The “Cook Remix” is more elegant, isolating the vocals more (including Matty Healy’s, which are barely decipherable in the original track) and relishing in building each piece of the mix into a beautifully layered finish. It’s lovely and I do prefer it to the “Club Mix,” but the “Club Mix” has tremendous earworm replay value. It starts fast and hard and never stops, riding on a loop of the repeating “ooo-ooo-oo” vocal sample that makes the original so sweet.
Charli is far from the only collaborator to show up on Dream Logic, though. There are remixes of multiple songs from albums Cook worked on last year, including Oklou’s Galore, Alaska Reid’s Big Bunny, and Jónsi’s Shiver. All of these records are more baroque than Cook tends to be, with Galore having tracks that could be considered straight chamber pop. However, as Caroline Polachek has proved in the past, chamber pop and hyperpop can fuse quite nicely. Two of the remixes, for “Mermaid Tears” by Reid and “galore” by Oklou, work well. Cook was the executive producer for Big Bunny; he knows how to accentuate Reid’s smokey vocals, no matter what genre he’s placing her in. The “galore” remix in particular is striking in that it builds upon the medieval-sounding synths in the original instead of changing the genre of the song. In these remixes, it feels clear that he’s working for the artists, not just using their stems for his own work.
However, there are a few collabs that fall short. The opening to the mixtape is a remix of the Oneohtrix Point Never song “Lost But Never Alone.” It is a fitting opening, introducing us as listeners to the sound that Cook has honed for this particular project; that funky europop feeling is certainly present here. It’s more cinematic than the original, making it feel as if Cook has some grand plan for the tape and, to some extent, he does; the mixtape is fantastic when listened to straight through. When isolated from the tape, though, some of these remixes don’t hold up to their originals. “Lost But Never Alone,” in its original form, is much sadder and more delicate. By turning it up to eleven, that melancholy is entirely removed. Similarly, the “fall” remix misses the quiet beauty of Oklou’s version, though the keyboard-heavy outro is wonderful nevertheless.
The rest of the tape are reworkings of songs from 7G, the “Today” cover, and three original tracks for Dream Logic. The 7G remixes all manage to be better than their originals, especially “Dust,” which comes out a lot sweeter this time around. The “Lil Song” reworking into an acoustic, country-tinged track also works much better than it sounds like it would on paper. They’re the quirkier, more fleshed-out cousins of their original mixes. Not everything stands out, particularly the “Today” cover and the new Danger Incorporated collab, both which should’ve been the selling points of the project. Both new solo Cook/DJ Lifeline (another name he uses for more straightforward EDM) tracks are good, though. Not stand-outs, but certainly serviceable within the grander scheme of the tape and are solid solo b-sides.
Though there are flaws here, Dream Logic is certainly never boring. At least ten of nineteen tracks are addictive to the point of absurdity and even when a remix does fall short, it has at least a moment or two that feels worth the ride. There are some sequencing issues that make that ride feel a bit bumpy or, at least, mood-shifting. However, it would be hard to deny the power of Cook’s production and the joy behind so many of the tracks here. If you love hyperpop or are a fan of solo Cook, this is not one to miss.
McKinzie Smith is a former film student from Portland, OR. In her adolescence, she followed Fall Out Boy up and down the West Coast. She now considers herself very cool and normal and only a little bit emo. She now spends most of her time listening to Charli XCX in her kitchen and writing articles about things she likes.