Dorian Electra explores digital chauvinism, fragile masculinity on “My Agenda”

Dorian Electra’s first album, “Flamboyant, was a spectacular synth-pop deconstruction of toxic masculinity and a simultaneous exploration of Electra’s own gender identity. Their second album, “My Agenda, released Oct. 16, is a perfect continuation of these themes with an even tighter focus on mocking internet-specific stereotypes and the eponymous “gay agenda.” With each song, Electra writes from the point of view of, or reacts to, a caricature. 

In the complementary “M’Ladyand “Gentleman, they’re the neckbeard with a Madonna-Whore complex and a love for fedoras and faux gentility; in the titular “My Agenda, they become one of the many homosexuals scheming to turn everyone else gay. The non-stop wit, humor and impossibly sharp attention to detail that makes all of Electra’s music special is on fantastic display in “My Agenda, not just lyrically, but sonically and meta-musically as well. To accompany the release of the record, Electra sold black fedoras emblazoned with “Gentleman” and “M’Lady,” both of these songs were pressed as a 7” single on “piss bottle yellow” vinyl, and, for the crowning achievement in music merchandising, Electra sold “Gentleman Gamer Guy Bath Water.” It’s this interpolation of online humor into every facet of the album’s existence that makes it so impressive, like some kind of document compiling the microgenres of digital chauvinism. 

These references are often subtle. The opening track, “F The World,” best described as a violent mix of gabber and screamo, has the couplet “So my skull’s not to measure/So there’s no one to pleasure.” It’s an allusion to the idea that all that separates incels (involuntary celibates) from alpha male “Chads” (macho men who have sex with a different woman every night) is just a few millimeters of bone, either as part of a sharper jawline, better cheekbones or some other justification that borders on phrenology. In another brilliant move, the next song “My Agenda features the Village People, a group that was probably part of what scared anti-gay Christian groups into inventing the term “gay agenda” in the first place. Also featured on “My Agenda” is the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, and as if the song didn’t have enough priceless cultural capital crammed into it, Electra finishes it off with a refrain designed to terrify Alex Jones: “We’re out here turning frogs / Homosexual.” The interlude “Monk Mode” is yet another reference to an insane theory made by angry anti-feminist men that states that if someone abstains from things like masturbation, alcohol and sex, then their life and dating abilities will magically improve. It would take a very long time to go over every nuance that’s packed into the lyrical content of “My Agenda”, but other highlights include the double entendre of “Hey, man, love who you want/But just don’t ram it down my throat” on “Ram It Down” and the Joker innuendos of “We live in a society / That’s always lashing out at guys like me” and “One question, why so serious?” on “Edgelord.”

The production itself often serves to reinforce themes of contemporary machismo. Musical embellishments call back to 4chan incels who idolize the historical severity of religion, like the flute dirges that open “Gentleman” and “M’Lady,” the organ playing in “Ram It Down” or the imitation Gregorian chants in “Monk Mode.” Cock rock guitar chords play next to brostep breakdowns, singer-songwriter piano chords disappear into DJ airhorn sound effects. Genre-bending for the purposes of gender-bending has always been one of Electra’s trademarks, but the sheer amount of influences on “My Agenda is innumerable. Songs flow from arena rock choruses into harsh walls of noise into happy hardcore EDM into bubblegum pop into vaporwave into death metal… As such, the lean 25-minute runtime feels much longer, in the best way possible. Part of this is also due to the excellent album sequencing—every single song is completely essential and there’s not a single truly bad one on here; if I had to pick the worst one, it would be “Monk Mode.”. But if the worst song on your record is a minute-long segue between contenders for song of the year “Sorry Bro (I Love You) and “Edgelord featuring Rebecca Black… then you know it’s still good.

There’s a burgeoning subgenre called hyperpop, defined by earworm songwriting played over every single electronic music genre imaginable with an emphasis on extreme voice manipulation and intoxication. Songs are often short, sped up, ironic, somehow chemical and futuristic, pop music on amphetamines. At the forefront of this movement is Dorian Electra with “My Agenda”, an album that turns the creative cultural critiques of their “Flamboyant to the online epidemic of misogynists masquerading as misunderstood people. No one else is making music right now this intricate while still being so unbelievably catchy. No one else is making music like this.

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