Editor's Picks

Album of the Week: Peggy Gou

With grace, style and a fierce beat, Peggy Gou continues to carve her own path in the world of electronic music with her hotly anticipated debut album,

The jetsetting DJ and producer Peggy Gou raises the curtain on her debut album with a meditation on creativity, as if to set her own intentions for the exuberant dance music to come. “Create your own view, your own universe, your own after-image,” she says on opening track “Your Art” over a slow-churning, wobbly bassline. “Look around. Look up. Look down. What do you see? What do you feel?”

These are questions Gou likely has asked herself in the decade leading up to I Hear You. Since her rise in the mid ‘10s, she’s built a worldwide following—and her own fashion line—through stellar, genre-jumping sets for DJ Kicks and the Boiler Room, busting barriers at Berghain and releasing a series of spacious underground house and/or techno tracks for Rekids and Ninja Tune. Until now, though, the Seoul-born, London College of Fashion-trained, Berlin-steeped Gou hasn’t released the Big Artistic Statement that is the studio album. Gou’s gratuitously catchy 2023 single “(It Goes Like) Nanana” blew up on social media, the perfect lead-in for her first album. With a liquid, bottom-end bass tone, the get-the-TikTok-started anthem is the centerpiece of I Hear You. Its ravey mid-1990s energy—think Dee-Lite or Soho—drives a smarter-than-it-seems track that references its own lyrical shortcomings in its verses before leaping into its ridiculous placeholder chorus: “Na na na na!/Na na na na!”

I Hear You showcases Gou’s deep database of electronic dance music; the album taps tones and rhythms from drum & bass, Chicago house, Berlin techno, Europop and border-jumping global dance music. It draws inspiration from a decade that generated rave-bred dance artists like Technotronic in the early part and extra-heavy house and techno acts from the Prodigy, Daft Punk, and the Chemical Brothers in its second half. Gou’s driving, determined house track “Back to One” channels the thump-clap sound of Chicago’s Relief Records and “Romeo”-era Basement Jaxx. “I Believe in Love Again,” her high-octane collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, is the best thing he’s created since Zoë. “Seoulsi Peggygou (서울시페기구)” is throwback drum & bass featuring a plucked koto melody, a luxurious late-track break and a chrome-toned LTJ Bukem-style sheen.

Throughout I Hear You, in fact, Gou produces as if the past two decades of dance never existed, ignoring contemporary synth-stabbing, jumbo-thump sounds in favor of small-tent 1990s commercial house and groove-is-in-the-heart techno, when Cher’s “Believe” and Everything But the Girl’s “Missing” jumped from gay clubs to the pop charts.

Wonderfully, the whole project somehow hits with a rush-of-the-new energy. At nearly six minutes, “Lobster Telephone” is the album’s longest track and it’s worth every measure. Leaping languages like house music leapt borders, the 130 bpm jam features a “Wordy Rappinghood”-like chant that showcases Gou’s ability to connect influences until they achieve a kind of couture elegance. Album-closer “1+1=11″ is a brilliant 2 a.m. tease-tease-release track driven by an earworm-inducing three-note keyboard melody that, when Gou (no doubt) drops it this summer during a set-defining climax, will tear the proverbial club up.