Flume – Skin
Release Date: 27/05/2016
Label: Future Classic
Singles: Never Be Like You, Smoke & Retribution, Say It
Flume is emerging as one of the most exciting electronic producers in the game right now. Criss-crossing every digitally-created genre into an indescribable dream of electronica, Flume’s music dips and bleeds into house, synth pop, dream pop, hip hop, electronica and trap. First emerging onto the scene as many new producers do via remixes, Flume’s international breakthrough came via a remix of Disclosure’s You & Me, as well as his very own Holding On. Four years later, Flume finally blesses us with his eagerly-awaited sophomore, Skin, a follow-up to his self-titled 2012 album.
Skin begins with a progressive and atmospheric grandeur, which then transforms into punchy synths and hard-hitting trap-recalling drum claps. As an opening track it couldn’t encapsulate the flavour of Flume’s music better, with the two oppositional elements of Skin having clashed and weaved into each other. Following track and lead single, Never Be Like You, also continues this eloquent summarisation of the project. Dreamy synths, dainty bells, and the hypnotic vocal performance from Kai, clashed with heavy drum rolls and stabbing synths are an unexpected but inspiring merge of sounds.
Across the hour duration of Skin, there is a lot going on, a lot to consume and it’s a heavy listen in a lot of places. Often the abstract nature of the project confuses and taints a lot of the beautiful melodies, take the FKA Twigs-stemming Numb & Getting Colder for example. With a stellar vocal performance from KUCKA and dreamy synths surrounding her, the rough drum claps hit too hard, and crossed with the vocal loops on the production, the songs ends up feeling scattered, rough and stop-start. And while this contrapuntal fusion of trap meeting dream/synth pop is fully intentional, a full project of it can leave you wanting one or the other.
Skin is an immersive listen, and on the whole I came away impressed. The aforementioned lead single, the Hudson Mohawke-nodding Say It, Take A Chance, and You Know, are all particular highlights to take away, however, there’s still a lot of frustration that comes with Flume’s second studio album. Take the short-but-sweet Pika, a song that demands more than 1 minute and 56 seconds, or the mesmerising When Everything Was New, there simply isn’t enough of this sound. Flume appears to be hung up on tearing his sound apart, and injecting it with rough drums and trap-infused grit, when really what he had before was the best bit.
Verdict – WWWV