Review Summary: Everything that I say is everything that I mean.
If subtlety was the defining aspect of Flume’s debut, his most recent output with Skin
leans hard in the opposite direction; sensory overdrive, typified by duelling synth patterns, a constant barrage of trapped-up hi-hats, and big-name, out-of-place features. It’s not a bad direction, per se, but it does lend itself to a quality of overproduction, as the ridiculously overcooked “Say It” and “Never Be Like You” can attest. On Harley Streten’s most recent batch of leftovers, the appropriate and boringly titled Skin Companion EP II
, he provides another slice of ridiculous, in-your-face, blissed-out wonk, replete with samples, drums, and really big names in the parenthesis.
Predictably, there’s very little flow with the material here- these are leftovers, natch- and the issues apparent on Skin
as it relates to overproduction and excess are ever-present. However, Straten’s relative economy of time- 16 minutes, as opposed to the laborious hour-length of this EP’s parent album- means that these tracks lend themselves better to self-curation and individual listening. Opener “Enough” features a reliably strong verse from Pusha T, who refuses to sing hooks, instead peddling bricks of cocaine with the hard-nosed braggadocio expected from the King. It could have easily slipped into Skin
- not least where the misplaced Vic Mensa verse was prior- and provided that album a better hip-hop flank, matching well with Vince Staples’ similarly forceful “Smoke & Retribution.” Elsewhere, Glass Animals appear on closer “Fantastic,” providing their suitably Oxford-inspired, literary observations of television culture that defined the better part of last year’s How to Be a Human Being
. Together, these two tracks provide the bulwark of the EP, proving far more exciting than many of the leftovers that found their way into Skin’s
generous runtime, more than making up for the EP’s weaker half, including a Chet Faker-lite Moses Sumney feature and a frivolous solo moment in “Depth Charge.” It’s worth bearing in mind however that, taken with the 24 other tracks Flume has released in the last year, Skin Companion EP II
directs towards a broader, cohesive project somewhere amongst the glut. For what it is, though- a standalone EP- it is a worthwhile moment of looseness, proving that, though Streten can be gratuitous, he also has his brief moments of casual greatness.