New Jersey music collective Cook Thugless continue to evolve their sound while diving down a path of indie pop that pays off greatly.
By Gavin Majeski
Cook Thugless has a sound that is hard to pin down. Identifying on Wikipedia as an “independent hip-hop collective,” the eight-member group has produced four studio records before their newest release, “YIKES.” Their previous 2019 record, “LUXE,” saw the band further their alternative hip-hop sound, which took influences from pop, jazz rap, and everything in between.
Formed at Rutgers University in 2012, Cook Thugless contains a wide array of talent, ranging from multiple vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and producers. With so many members and enough creative mind power to drop two LPs one year after another, Cook Thugless can only continue to evolve their sound, and “YIKES” is no different. While their previous full-length projects contain primarily hip-hop influenced tracks, “YIKES” is the band’s first dip into indie pop with tracks like “pink pilot,” “bad luck,” “california” and “2001.”
Vocals from female singer Shyrley on their 2019 record “LUXE” helped lay a solid foundation for where the group propelled their sound into 2020. “YIKES” displays just how versatile the group is by containing hip-hop bangers such as “fuck the second floor” and “mosh pit.” Alongside these tracks is the synth-pop infused “centrifuge” and semi-experimental “bonkerz,” the latter of which feels like it could have fit perfectly on Injury Reserve’s self-titled 2019 record.
Though the band is more than capable of producing well-crafted and diverse-sounding tracks, where the record falls flat is the placement of each. Tracks “fuck the second floor,” “bonkerz” and “mosh pit” are fantastic hip-hop bangers, yet stick out like sore thumbs in the grand scheme of the track listing. Going from one of the most aggressive tracks, “fuck the second floor,” to one of the slowest tracks, “california,” causes a slightly jarring listening experience, as a primary example. “YIKES” is also the group’s shortest record to date, with nine songs and a total run-time of 27 minutes. This makes for excellent, catchy tracks, but leaves the listener wanting more substance.
Cook Thugless wraps up their newest record fantastically with “still here,” which features a compilation of choruses and hooks from the previous eight tracks. The final moments of the cut contain plane samples, which beautifully work into the opening “pink pilot.”
Containing not a single poor track, “YIKES” is another step in the right direction for a promising music collective, even if the record’s track placement and length is a slight misstep for an otherwise great record.
Favorite Tracks: EVERYTHING