Review Summary: Underneath the masculinity isn't what it seems.
What 24-year old Australian producer Flume (aka Harley Streten) has done with his grundy electronic confections is nothing short of innovative and intentionally exotic, meshing together mind-inducing house, industrial garage, and finally rhythmic hip-hop into one sole, distinctive form that he calls his own, "atmospheric electronic". It culminates into a pulsating, aquarius sequence that, as Streten said in a podcast with music personality Triple J, is not deemed "festival music, it's more headphone [music]", creating this opening gap that this isn't the kind of electronic that you would go dance and rock your socks off to, his immersive, deliberate mind f**k of a trip is meant to solely listen to and nod to in pleasure and sheer satisfaction. It stood out clearly in his 2012 debut, as he bristled through with vital life with his artistic, seemingly abstract compositions that felt like all types of paint whipped and splattered across a canvas in a fit of explosive anger. While that theatrical emotion exists in the masculinity of his artsy sophomore release Skin, it doesn't cease to find more messed up ways to deliver it underneath its blossoming beauty. That culminates into a bipolar, clustered cycle of sorts that continue to glisten and puzzle all at the same time but at the end, delivering that interesting nod of approval in its colorful farewell.
What Flume does best in his kaleidoscopic, mirroring compositions is the viciousness and intensity it fixates into one's embodied soul, lighting it up in awe and confusion because of the unfamiliar patterns it shoots across. He did it in his blistering self-titled debut, and it doesn't cease to continue further in Skin. In the piercing, scented "Wall F**k", it bursts with ultraviolet, gripping synthesizer that stigmatize together in a dynamic pattern, with screeching bass and tearing, dark claps that alarms loudly to convey the thrashing, pleasurable urge to embrace one in a sexual encounter. The epitome of Streten's art, is the bipolar emotion that is coagulated around the lush, metropolitan landscape that rushes through like traffic on rush hour only to quiet down afterwards. In the futuristic, inviting "Tiny Cities" featuring alternative mainstay Beck, his grundy, echoing vocals resonate naturally as they blend a clean-cut acoustic guitar sequence with pulsating, oxygenating bass that, in its explosive core, squeeze out and suffocate with every drop and burst, conveying the deepening sadness that echoes from tragedy and continuous struggle. Tearful, tearing lines like "Thinking I'll fall every time I wanna try to let her go/but it's never easy when you think you have it in control" only further magnify it's depressive, yet resilient premise as Beck progresses through them with assurance and dominance. That extreme emotional explosion of rage and regret is classic Flume at his finest, but he's also ensured that the lack of consistency that followed in his debut doesn't fragment once again on his new glowing endeavor, delivering no wild cards that throw off in this emotive, bodily struggle.
The deceptive concept that hides within Skin returns to its literal title, as underneath it's masculinity is a whole plethora of walloping highs and lows and conflictive battles within one's self; sadness, euphoria, resilience, temptation, and pleasure. In Flume's biggest commercial release to date, the contradicting, euphoric "Never Be Like You", featured artist Kai battles her inner romantic enemies within herself in a seemingly euphoric, positive sequence of neon-drenched, spacious synths bristling and clicking with roaring, vibrant bass that shatter across and reaches through the speakers. With resilient, convincing lines harmonized like "I'm only human can't you see/I made, I made a mistake", it showcases the emotional roller coaster that is embarked on, delivering a weirdly elastic landscape with its lyrical background treading across dreadful, desperate waters of repentance and forgiveness. Divulging even further amongst the sadness, Flume pairs up with pop sensation and EDM mainstay Tove Lo for the ultimate confection on this immersive experience, the deceptive, glossy "Say It". Fitted and designed with eloquent, electric synths that speak amongst the bolstering claps that rattle in its gusty essence, Tove Lo shines through the starry, star-studded night with a sense of damning seduction and demanding, the per usual in which she does best with. Strengthened with its confident, lustful lines like "when you say it like that/let me f**k you right back", it's lustful premise is further magnified immensely over the strong urge of sexual temptations that seduce all over with Tove Lo's elegant voice guiding through.
What comes away from Flume's abstract sophomore release Skin is that he has finally found himself from a musical perspective, underneath that fake makeup and flair is a whole cluster of real fears and pleasures that doesn't hide away for very long, breaking free and showing off its true colors. The broken inconsistencies that lurked and scorched his self-titled debut no longer exist, as the rotation flows through naturally without any wild-cards that fragment the emotional rollercoaster that cruises through. The atomic, artsy beats rock out harder with the stellar vocal performances that only further entice with all sorts of feelings, whether it's the regret Beck felt in "Tiny Cities" or the powerful seduction Tove Lo lusts up in "Say It", they give it bigger meaning to its darkening premise. This is the most exotic, global kind of electronic you will come across in 2016, with its tepid, mechanical compositions crashing in with purpose in a way Flume couldn't convey originally before in his 2012 debut. In the end of it, this isn't certainly nightclub dance or anything commercialized, it's meant to make you think beyond it and at its faithful conclusion, delivers that agreeable nod and the sense of satisfaction that Flume aimed to shoot for, because this isn't "festival music", this goes beyond it.