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Album Review: A glimpse into electronica with Flume’s album “Skin”

Grade: B+

Flume, an Australian musician and music producer, has become a rising star here in the States. His genre of experimental electronica quickly resulted in a No. 1 hit, awarding him his first platinum record in the U.S., with his single “Never Be Like You.” This song is featured on his latest album “Skin”, which was released on May 27, 2016. It contains 16 songs including projects between Flume and other popular artists such as Kai, Tove Lo and MDNR.

His first two songs introduce a combo of instrumental woodwind sound mixed with downtempo in ‘Helix’, followed by the slow club feel of ‘Never Be Like You.’ Together these set you up for his album by encompassing his talent working with and without vocal artists. Flume’s versatility doesn’t end there. His third song “Lose it (feat. Vic Mensa)” and the eighth track on the album, “Smoke and Retribution (Feat. Vince Staples and KUCKA)” are electro rap mixes.

KUCKA, who is also a feature on his fourth song, has a very different sound than most pop artists that we would otherwise recognize from this selection. By carefully pairing his electro beats with such artists, we can better understand Flume’s fun experimental aspects.

Other highlights from this album include “Wall F—-”, “Pika” and “Like Water (feat. MNDR).” “Wall F—-” uses a very repetitive combination of sounds giving you an almost scratchy, skipping disc effect and slowly builds from there into techno tye dye as he adds in different synthesizer chords slowly but consistently. “Pika” and “Wall F—” are very similar except for the fact that “Pika” gives off a lighter effect since notes are being introduced at a slower rate. Here again, we also revisit an instrumental combination but with brass instruments such as trumpets or horns.

There are two songs, I would note, that do not seem to meet the bar the rest of the album sets. These would be “3” and “Tiny Cities (Feat. Beck).” Though this is not to say that I completely dislike either song. “3” simply comes off as a bit jumbled. Flume adds many more unusual musical elements to this song than he does any other on his album. From bubbles to bass, and flutes to mumbles, the sounds, as interesting as they are, don’t flow together nearly as well as his other songs. Instead the music becomes choppy as he switches between dubstep and fantasy instrumentals.

“Tiny Cities” was a surprise, namely because the vocals are more lighthearted in mood. Definitely an experimental decision that I am on the fence about, seeing as the featured singer, Beck, would likely work better with acapella groups than electronica. In addition to that, I was generally expecting a faster pace and for the song to sound more similar to “Like Water.”

Overall, I would consider “Skin” to be a suitable collection for both dubstep and electropop enthusiasts. Hopefully we will be hearing more from Flume as he becomes more comfortable working in the States.

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