Australia’s Golden Boy, Harley Streten, known as the most progressive and best producers on the planet has finally returned after a 3 year wait from his near perfect self titled debut.
To begin, Helix, sets the tone for the sound of the album. Already, we have an entirely new Flume, a sound completely different from the debut, and all his remixes since then. This does create a sense of optimism for the listener, and is important for an artist to progress, however, has Flume progressed in the correct fashion? Helix is nothing short of a banger. The atmospheric beginning turns into a much darker, trap style beat towards the end. The drop ends abruptly, and does certainly take multiple listens to really encapsulate what Harley is aiming at with this track.
The album continues on from this masterful opening track. All the songs on the record are sonically amazing. The production is still, yet again of the highest level. However, in some songs, Flume does take advantage of this ease to produce, with multiple songs that feel commercially justified, which is where the main letdowns of the LP are.
“Say It” is a track that takes advantage of the overused synth/future bass sound to create a radio style song, that does not exact meet the standard at all of any of his other releases. Tove Lo only produces a vocal that is corny with little emotion, made to be catchy not to be honest. The same can be said for “Lose It ft. Vic Mensa.” For me, this song is a missed opportunity. Vic is amazing at rapping on harsh, darker beats, and I feel he was misplaced on the beat on this track. Instead he was placed on a very pretty beat with a chorus that sounds like something an amateur producer would make to gain attention from the broader populous of listeners. Furthermore, the Track, You Know, just misses the target, and comes across as extremely cheesy and has little to no grit in the verses.These songs are heavy disappointments, especially to long time Flume fans, who expect nothing but perfection from Harley. These songs don’t push any boundaries, and stick out like a swollen thumb on the record, due to the clear commercial compromise.
The album also features two ambient, atmospheric tracks. These include, “Pika” and “Everything Was New”. Both of these tracks simply show off the amazing production creativity of Flume and also his potential as a pure producer. These tracks offer a nostalgia which we hadn’t seen from Harley up until this point. These tracks are exceptionally executed.
Its not all doom and gloom however, some of the tracks on Skin are some of Flume’s best work yet. Kucka features twice on the record, both times executing amazing vocal lines. “Numb and Getting Colder” is quite simply a masterpiece. Kucka sounds like an alien from another planet, and so does the production. It’s a masterpiece, and the production is some of the best of this era of music. The other track Kucka features on is “Smoke and Retribution.” This song is a perfect combination of Flume’s amazing production, a dark beat, Vine’s rapping, and Kucka’s out of this world vocal. Another amazing song on the album features Little Dragon, titled, “Take A Chance.” This song is an outright contender for the song of the year. Its amazing atmospheric chord progression, leading to an amazing drop, provides for nostalgia and also a deep sense of groove, making it irresistible to move to. Vocals from Little Dragon only enhance these feelings, creating a near perfect melodies of synthesizers and human touch.
To conclude, its only honesty to say that some of the songs on this record were a let down. The commercial compromise of Flume’s forever progressive sound leaves a sour taste to the entirety of the album. Even though there are many highlights, one must only think how amazing the record could have been, if the record was produced the that standard throughout.