Skin: Joint Staff Review
Steven: As electronic music continues to gain popularity, 2016 has already been a great year for the flourishing genre (see Kaytranada’s 99.9% for an example). With many new names and faces, established artists might find it tough to control the spotlight like they once did. Flume is not one of those artists. He has finally arrived with his sophomore album, Skin, following the release of his debut, self-titled album in 2012. Now, I can’t say four years was worth waiting for a new album, but Skin definitely allows one to make the argument. If you are already a fan and are familiar with Flume, you’ll recognize that the artist excels at creating tracks that sound like electronic lullabies. However, Flume takes a bit of a different route with this album and instead makes a loud, lasting statement that’s filled with energy.
Martha: Early releases "Smoke & Retribution (feat. Vince Staples and Kučka)" and “Never Be Like You (feat. Kai)" brought my attention to the artist. Electronic music has been growing on me for only about a year now, so I’d never heard of the Australian artist, whose last album was released in 2012. Those two singles confirmed his talent, although I was unsure he would create an entire album I’d enjoy.
By May 27, however, Skin was more than a long-awaited album for me, it was a gift (it was released on my birthday). I don’t think the album is perfect – I don’t like the harsh beat of "Smoke & Retribution", although I do like Vince Staples’ lines and Kučka’s vocals. Nor am I a fan of the rough, chaotic sound of "Numb & Getting Colder", yet again Kučka’s voice swoops in and saves the song from completely flopping.
Steven: While Skin is a more upbeat album than Flume, the project starts off with a slow building track that prepares the listener for what’s to come. "Helix" is a song that speaks to Flume’s distinct sound. The second half of the song is like a symphony of discord and features a screeching-type sound that is oddly enjoyable.
Martha: That’s what is strongest about the album as a whole – everyone will likely to find something they enjoy on it, and there’s something solid buried in each track. While the album itself is considered “electronic”, there’s rap, pop, indie, alternative and R&B notes mixed in.
Steven: If you compare the guest features from Flume’s first and second albums, you’ll notice stark differences in appearances. This difference can be heard in the overall sound of the album and especially on the third track of the project. “Lose it” is the third track on the album and by far my favorite. It features the growing Vic Mensa (who recently released the LP There’s A Lot Going On), whose vocals match the beat’s energy and combine to create a track that’s impossible to ignore. The song is the epitome of hype and makes me bang my head and “lose it” every time I listen. It drags you into the moment and makes you lose yourself as if you were at one of B-Rabbit’s iconic rap battles.
Martha: When “Say It (feat. Tove Lo)”, the most pop sounding track on the album, was released, I was hooked. Tove Lo has a voice, to be sure, but I was wary the song would not be anything more than a radio single. Maybe it will find its way onto the radio, but Flume’s production makes it much more than that. He created a track that features a popular female artist that wasn’t meant (just) for teenage girls. In fact, it’s been several of my guy friends that have esteemed the song for its harmonic, addictive sound. You’ll keep it on repeat at least a few times.
Steven: “Wall F--k” is another standout track on this album. The repeated vocal sample is introduced early in the track and plays throughout the entire song. You hear the sample over and over and over again as if it’s being force fed to the listener. I imagine Flume standing over a beat machine and repeatedly pressing this function like an annoying little kid poking at you after you’ve ignored him and told him to leave you alone.
Martha: You may not be a fan of totally instrumental electronic music, (which make up six of the album’s 16 tracks), but it’s safe to say you will find at least a track or two to add to your playlist. “Free” is my personal favorite instrumental because of its entrancing, climactic sound that envelops you.
Each track offers something authentic and engaging to the listener, and each may not appeal to you at once. Some, like “When Everything Was New” or “Like Water (feat. MNDR)” you may add to your study or relaxation playlist. Others like “Tiny Cities (feat. Beck)” or “Never Be Like You (feat. Kai)” you’ll want to blast while you’re driving. And finally, “Lose it (feat. Vic Mensa)” or “You Know (feat. Allan Kingdom and Raekwon)”, you might play at a party.
Steven: “Take a Chance (feat. Little Dragon)” is my second favorite track on the album. Little Dragon’s soothing vocals create that distinct electronic lullaby sound that Flume is renowned for. But as the track builds, so does the anticipation. The hook sounds like an entirely different song with wilder vibe. Despite the contrast, Flume integrates the two very different sounds into a smooth yet energetic ballad that only he could perfect.
Martha: Skin was also not an album I expected to catch on so quickly. Maybe the general public is finally catching on to quality music (doubtful), or Flume’s sophomore album is just that good. Only two days after its release, I heard Vic Mensa’s voice in “Lose It” float across the pool at my apartment. Well done, sorority girls.
Thanks to Flume’s stellar production and mixing, as well as star-studded features, we have received one of the best electronic albums of the year. Whether or not you like every single track, Skin is worth the listen.
Steven: Skin is a formidable album that is a nice sequel to Flume. The progression of the album is much in evidence, yet remains steadfast and true to the distinct sound that Flume has created over his career. The slow-building and pulsing vibe remains, yet now Flume has introduced a louder, more pronounced sound that’s sure to move you in more ways than one. In fact, after listening to the album I decided that it’d be foolish to miss his concert. He will be starting the North American leg of his world tour in July and will be at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Sept. 6 and 7. (Both shows have already sold out, so good luck.)