Review Summary: Danceable, soulful and strong - everything the EDM scene could do with more of.
Even before he was creating imaginary anime-lite worlds in our headphones, Porter Robinson sought to bring something original to the electronic music scene. While his early releases might have been drenched in the aggressive electro-house sound made popular by pre-fame Zedd, Lazy Rich and Wolfgang Gartner, Robinson did his very best to add his own slant to everything; there was always a thoughtful and melodic edge that made his tracks somewhat recognisable. His 2011 EP Spitfire
continued very much in this tradition, offering identifiably Robinson takes on various EDM subsets including electro house, dubstep, moombahton and trance. Admittedly, all of the styles on this EP had been pioneered and perfected long before its release, but it almost feels as if Robinson’s main purpose here was to showcase his own sound through the medium of all these different styles, as opposed to making distinctly dubstep, trance or anything else. Hence why some of the tracks seem to blend styles together: the four-on-the-floor second drop of “Spitfire”, for example, or the excellent fusion of electro house and trance on “The Seconds”.
Very little of this EP feels forced or present for its own sake; there seems to be meaning behind every pluck, growl and riser. The off-setting of action-packed drops with melodic sections is nothing new to EDM, but here it almost feels like Robinson built the drops around the melodies, rather than the other way around. Even the one track with no melody whatsoever, “100% in the Bi***”, comes across as intentional enough with its crushing moombah drops and humorous sampled vocals from YouTube’s Namasensei. The five remixes that follow the main tracks aren’t hugely essential to the EP, and often appear to sacrifice musicality for excitement, but if the idea of hearing these songs reinterpreted differently appeals to you, then you may find something to enjoy in them.
If you’re already of the belief that EDM is all vacuous party music with nothing to offer, then this may not be the record to change your mind. It's true that Spitfire
does contain a lot of dance tropes rolled into one – bass drops, trance-y breakdowns and insistent 4x4 kicks among others. But there’s a personality, a charm about this EP that can’t be denied. Maybe it doesn’t have as much mass appeal as Worlds
, but we all know it’s not really supposed to. Robinson’s aim here was to write a good, original dance record, and it’s safe to say he smashed it.