Album Review: Flume – Skin

Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2011 with his debut “Sleepless” EP, and the earth shattering, game changing self-titled 2012 LP, Australian producer Harley Streten, better known as Flume has lit the world of electronic music on fire with his unique blend of glitchy electronica and hard-hitting beats. Finally he’s back with his sophmore LP “Skin” which dropped last Friday, and what a massive album this is.

Opening with the incredible Helix, an atmospheric anthem that sets the tone for the rest of the record, the dazzling swooshing synths soon cascade into a dark, ominous breakdown, until a ridiculous arpeggiated synth slowly rises and builds into a pounding, glitchy futuristic drop, one of the best tracks on the album for sure. Never Be Like You is one of the lead singles from “Skin” and features the lovely Kai on vocals, one of the more commercial tracks on the album, it has a nice mainstream appeal and those signature synths Flume is renowned for. Lose It is the first of the hip-hop influenced tracks on the record and features Vic Mensa who provides a nice rap throughout the track, again those heavily gated side chained synths and booming 808s feature prominently. Numb And Getting Colder is one of the more experimental tracks on “Skin”, and features a unique mix of odd, almost dark sounding rising synths and pumping percussion. Kucka takes the vocal reign on this one, and again provides a stunning performance, like many of the vocal cuts on this record, Flume chose his collaborators carefully, but every one of them lived up to the task and made fantastic addition to this album.

Tove Lo provided one of the standout vocals on the album for sure with the infectiously catchy Say It. If any of the tracks are to have a dent on the pop charts, it’s this one. The bouncy synths and rhythm go hand in hand to ensure this is one of the best songs on the record, if not one of the best tracks this year. After listening to the album a few times now, this is one of the tracks we keep coming back to.  Wall Fuck sees Flume going back down the experimental route with a pounding, beat driven chaotic hit, what starts off very dark soon progresses into a epic glitchy banger. Pika is probably one of the more filler tracks on the album, a bit more mellow than previous offerings, it’s still a nice track from the Australian. Smoke And Retribution sees Kucka return this time with Vince Staples who provides the second rap section of the album, previously released as a single, again this is a banger of a track with those massive drums and synths returning to create a hip hop, electronica infused cracker. 3 is a cool, crisp blast of thumping electronica and classic Flume sounds. When Everything Was New is one of the most chill tracks on the album, but without question the most beautiful one. Opening with the sounds of children playing, the simple yet emotional synth progression builds into an atmospheric, ethereal symphony which is one to remember, full of heart and emotion, another standout track from Flume. You Know features Alan Kingdom and Raekwon is a melancholy, deeper cut from the album, and is another of the hip-hop influenced trap hits on the album, with brilliant vocal throughout.

As we move into the last section of the album, we also move into the best, with the last couple of tracks being instantly memorable. Take A Chance is another more commercial track, and is just signature Flume. This is one of the most uplifting and giddy songs, and sees Flume going wild on the synth work. One of the biggest breakthroughs of the last while has been AlunaGeorge who provides vocals for a great, emotion-laden ballad in Innocence. Like Water continues the emotional trend to close out the album, and has the beautiful voice of MNDR who, along with the symphonic synth sounds of Flume create another one of the standout tracks. Free is the most interesting tune from the record, and it’s back story explains why it’s also one of the best. Flume created this track after months of never ending writers block, which pained him so much that he believed he’d never be able to write music again, all until a 10 day trip of isolation in Tasmania finally allowed him to break free, and indeed you can tell that the frustration of writers block was taken out in the writing of this booming monster of a production. To finish the record, Flume enlisted the legendary Beck to sing on Tiny Cities. A dreamy mix of Beck’s vocals and Flume’s sounds progress into a beautiful thumping percussion and synth drop, which closes out without question one of the best releases of the year.

Dropping just in time for summer, this will no doubt soundtrack the good (and maybe the bad) times ahead in the summer months, Harley has outdone himself here on “Skin”. In the midst of the mass popularisation of future bass and future beats, it isn’t quite as groundbreaking as his self-titled debut LP, but there’s no denying that this is still a phenomenal record and one which will be remembered for long to come.