Man wearing headphones standing in field at night
Andrew Goes to Hell Credit: James Baroz

When the pandemic hit, the 23-year-old Chicago songwriter, producer, and vocalist who calls himself Andrew Goes to Hell returned to an old love to cope with the mounting stress: he played video games. He’d grown up with all the Tony Hawk games, whose soundtracks consist mainly of popular and bygone punk, hip-hop, and metal, and they informed his musical taste as much as the mid-2000s pop punk he heard via Fuse TV. When Andrew began DJing in seventh grade, he specialized in nightcore, drawn in by its pitched-up sounds and frenzied energy. “It reminded me of the video games I played at that time,” he says. As he spent more and more time gaming in spring 2020, the sounds of video games began to influence his creativity again—and this time, he got into Silent Hill and other games with original scores designed to enhance play. “The music supplemented this whole feeling—I felt involved in the game,” he says. “I wanted to create music that created the same immersion.”

On the September album World’s Smartest Dumbass (Curiosity Shop), Andrew does more than synthesize his influences. Its songs combine effervescent video-game blips, hypnotic dance-music synths, and the melancholy guitars and rambunctious yawps of pop punk into an adrenalized new pop language. Andrew’s style can loosely be called hyperpop, especially since “hyperpop” is such a loose term to begin with—and he certainly subverts pop tropes, even as his tunes summon supersize emotions as well as any great three-minute radio smash. It’d be more accurate to say he has styles, not just a style: World’s Smartest Dumbass moves from the acidic guitars of a full-bore punk song (“If So, Let Me Go”) to a dreamlike kawaii synth rhapsody (“Drift Apart”) in under five minutes. On “Preservatives,” woebegone longing courses through squelching sounds and syrupy singing, giving the song an alluring, urgent oomph. By marinating in these emotional extremes, Andrew reaches his own kind of pop bliss.

Umru, Fraxiom, LAN Party, Lucas Lex, Chase Alex, and Andrew Goes to Hell Wed 10/20, 7 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, $20, 17+