The year is 2100. After discovering the root of intelligence, humans have created not just artificially intelligent androids, but truly intelligent androids.

Not only that, but these androids, like ourselves in the current day, have begun to struggle with cell-phone addiction and an obsession with social media. A small subset of these anthropomorphic, sentient robots have begun making music as a way of both embracing and denouncing the reliance of the general populace on technology.

This is the music that London-based label PC Music has produced since its founding in 2013. The formerly independent label, now “partnered” — the nature of this partnership hasn’t been clarified to the public — with Columbia Records, is fueled by absurdity. It is the manifestation of pop taken to its logical extreme, making it, in some ways, more social experiment than sonic experiment, if the two can be separated.

Sonically, the PC Music mindset is one that aims for instant gratification and more-or-less unprecedented experimentation in equal measure. The immediately melodic, dance-floor-ready beats of A.G. Cook and label-member Danny L. Harle juxtapose the abrasive electro-grunge of Felicita, whose most recent EP feels more like a discarded Oneohtrix Point Never release than anything else the label has released to date.

Though tracks vary widely in terms of melodic accessibility and the particular organization of sound, the sound itself has remained constant through PC Music’s brief lifetime. Every song has a distinctly plastic finish, and synths reign supreme, with songs generally featuring pitch-shifted, heavily auto-tuned, and usually female voices; however, PC Music has become less insistent on these features with the singles on PC Music, Vol. 2.

If PC Music, Vol. 1 was a work of introduction and self-discovery, then PC Music, Vol. 2 is label-founder Cook (and company) in full stride. With features by Noonie Bao and Carly Rae Jepsen — neither aggressively auto-tuned — it feels now more than ever as though PC Music is on the cusp of breaking into the pop mainstream.

The irony of this, of course, is that PC Music serves fundamentally as a criticism of pop music, the genre it simultaneously and unashamedly channels. From the self-indulgent, overtly sexual work of GFOTY (Girlfriend of the Year) to Hannah Diamond’s more introspective singles, it’s clear that PC Music is aiming to craft some sort of cultural and social criticism. Like the initials “PC” in the label’s name, however, we the listeners are left more or less in the dark as to “what it all means.”

While the mystery surrounding the label’s name itself seems more or less purely aesthetic, PC Music is truly enigmatic in nature. Early in the collective’s lifetime, there was significant media speculation about whether Hannah Diamond was and is a real person, rather than just a hyper-polished computer-generated avatar. Many of the label’s contributors’ identities — such as Felicita, easyFun, and Life Sim, just to name those on this particular compilation — are left ambiguously up in the air and, especially early in the label’s existence, Cook was notoriously stingy about giving interviews.

Perhaps this reluctance to engage and interact with the media was just one more contributor to some yet-unclarified statement. Perhaps Cook simply wanted to be sure the project had secured itself before exporting anything other than music. Whatever the case may have been, on Vol. 2 this label seems either more self-assured or more aware of its goals. With the respective successes of Harle’s “Broken Flowers” and Cook’s “Beautiful,” PC Music was forced to open itself up, and its recent collaboration with Charli XCX and current partnership with Columbia Records are strong indications that they are ready to do just that. Now, PC Music is balancing accessibility — “Supernatural,” “Monopoly,” “Broken Flowers” — with more pointed commentary such as “Fade Away,” “Poison,” “Hi.”

On “Fade Away” and “Hi,” the most lyrically valuable tracks of PC Music, Vol. 2, Hannah Diamond reflects on relationships in the modern day and age. On “Fade Away,” she questions whether “it’s me you like / Or the way I make you feel / Alive / But so dead inside,” while “Hi” finds Diamond playing one half of a relationship conducted purely over the internet. Here, in some of the most poignant lyrics in a PC Music song to date, she questions how people choose to portray themselves in a certain way online: “Feels like I miss you / But is it really the real you? / You say you’re as real as it gets / What do you mean?”

PC Music is still young, and it’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty who the producers behind the music — Harle, Cook, GFOTY and Diamond — really are, but with the release of PC Music, Vol. 2, one thing is certain: these young Londoners either embody the future of pop music or are the earliest heralds of its demise as we know it. Whichever turns out to be the case, it’s hard not to be excited.

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