Review Summary: Alright, alright, alright
By the time the first season of True Detective rolled around, the McConnaissance was already in full swing. Known mostly for being a braindead hunk who had once uttered the legendary phrase of “alright, alright, alright”, Matthew McConaughey had successfully steered his career into more acclaimed and respected waters by brute forcing his way into acting roles that were about as close to a one-eighty as you could get. These days, the actor’s mostly tied with potential political runs and whisky ads overwrought with existential musings, with his rom-com stature becoming a relic of a bygone era and any evidence left of such becoming a knowing wink and nudge punchline for those old enough to remember.
Sonny Moore AKA Skrillex is currently going through a similar reinvention and also unfortunately linked to Jordan Peterson. Where once he made the sonic equivalent of smashing t-rex and Power Ranger action figures together, the producer has been quietly setting up the chess pieces to have his name held in higher esteem and be seen as Real Music. While he has been drip-feeding singles on and off the last few years, Quest for Fire
and Don’t Get Too Close
mark the formal full-throated proclamation that the old Skrillex can’t come to the phone right now because he’s dead -complete with a different haircut! To anyone remotely paying attention for the last half-decade or so, it may seem a bit old hat to notice that Sonny isn’t the dial-up internet dispenser that he had been mocked for when he brought that sound to the mainstream, but this pair of albums serves as a convenient reintroduction to his harsher critics or those that are finally okay with admitting to themselves that electronic dance music is kinda fun and cool thanks to more acceptable acts like Fred Again and Disclosure bridging the gap between The Nerds and The Nerd Nots.
On the ground of proving evolution, it’s hard to call this massive twenty-seven song dump between both albums anything but a success. The Skrillex name can now be associated with a whole host of different sounds and genre and, if nothing else, be held up as impressive feats of sound engineering in the same way you can’t really fault the way that James Cameron’s Avatar series looks
. It will be hard to separate the two albums from each other, but Quest for Fire
is undeniably the more successful collection, given that it seems more content to flex its command of more respectable genres and was smartly released first with surely one of the most gorgeous covers that will grace albums this year.
Don’t Get Too Close
is not a massive step down by any stretch, but it is the more confounding of the two. For one, there’s the awful cover art that seems to pay homage to the days of a dickless Crazy Frog, but that is really all that needs to be said about that. Across its twelve tracks are some genuinely impressive, forward thinking pieces like the collaborations with Yung Lean and Bladee on “Ceremony” and “Real Spring” or the genuinely affecting title track, but the experience as a whole sadly seems content to wallow somewhere more in the middle. It’s clear that Sonny wanted to stick the obvious radio hits on a project away from the more adventurous cuts on Quest for Fire
given that the agonizing “Bad For Me” and “Don’t Go” exist in perfect, uh, competence? and with none of the artistic growth that he has demonstrated elsewhere. Sure, there are no banshee screeches from yesteryear but these two songs turn his newfound restraint into a full-on lack of effort and seem to exist more as a way to guarantee sales and a subtle brag to remind everyone just how impressive the names in his contact list can be - and they are
impressive. Anyone who denies just how crazy it is that Cheif Keef and Anthony Green are unflinchingly on the same album and it is not a total disaster is a straight up liar.
Ultimately Don’t Get Too Close
is an album whose success changes on the angle it is being perceived. As an artistic statement, it stumbles much more than its sister album despite some strong strong songs and genuinely cool connective tissue that conjoin the two. As a reinforcement that the new Skrillex is, in fact, a different breed than the Skrillex of yore, it succeeds -even if it’s mostly a pale echo of Quest For Fire
due to the obvious and boring -and maybe necessary- radio hits. It is somewhat of a shame that neither release is a slam-dunk triumph in their own right, but being a massive solo song dump after nearly a decade away is stacking the deck against that outcome. The newfound restraint and sharpening of focus on an individual song level shows that Skrillex may yet be capable of doing the same for an entire album in the future. For now, Sonny has done enough to show that the Skrillex brand has at least upgraded to broadband internet.