With several collaborations and an extensive self-titled deluxe debut in 2013, Australian EDM artist Harley Straiten, better known as Flume, has risen to the ever-growing international ranks of electronic pop music and has established his own recognizable sonic niche. His sophomore album Skin is even more promising and electrifying, highlighting an even more varied approach to EDM that relies much more heavily on generic crossover, which Flume does with the utmost ease.

‘Skin’ by Flume Album Review

With guest appearances by the likes of Beck, Tove Lo, Vic Mensa, Little Dragon and AlunaGeorge among others, Flume appeals to both diehard EDM aficionados and beat-savvy mainstream consumers. The DJ/producer demonstrates great flexibility both in collaborating with different artists and in his conceptual work on his sophomore album. A well-crafted production, this is an explosive record that showcases the vocal strengths of his collaborators, adapting Flume’s sound to their unique characteristics and taking it in new directions while maintaining the core identity of what makes Flume Flume.

Where Skin takes a large step away from Flume’s self-titled debut is precisely in the general pop appeal that most tracks on the record have. The album has all the necessary characteristics of a glossy electronic pop record from the production to the hooks and the consumer-friendly drops. With chart-toppers like “Never Be Like You,” featuring Canadian singer Kai, and “Say It,” featuring Tove Lo, Flume boldly comfortably asserts himself – against the criticism of EDM purists – among the flourishing mainstream pop.

Nevertheless, the DJ and producer never betrays his individual, raw style. Amidst the impressive list of collaborations, Flume has thrown in a few solo tracks such as tribal intro “Helix,” the edgy “Wall F**k” and “3,” which counterbalance the heightened pop appeal of the record. “Pika” and “Free” are other notable instrumentals which make Skin even more varied. Some may find this kind of melodic fragmentation off-putting, but regardless, the artist fully indulges in the distorted synths and electronic atmospherics that are distinctly his own.

When it comes to tempo and dynamics, Skin again has to offer something for everyone. There’s the beat-rich, banging “Smoke and Retribution,” featuring by Vince Staples and Kučka, which leaves more room for the vocals, dressing them only with occasional drops and bouncing beats. And there’s also the heavy hip-hop electro hybrid on tracks like “Lose It,” featuring Vic Mensa, which ebbs and flows through a chaotic mix of distorted synths and reverbs. On closer “Tiny Cities,” featuring Beck, Flume goes a step further and dabs into alternative rock as well. Beck’s dreamy vocals drive the track, slowly and steadily guiding this lengthy record to completion. This collaboration not only blurs the lines between the musical genres but pushes the boundaries of what is musically possible and pleasant to the ear, which perhaps encapsulates the larger meaning of this record

Flume’s Skin is full of eagerness, experimentation and talent. The DJ/producer excels in his goal to transcend the categorical. His music, though largely accepted as EDM, lives beyond the boundaries of conventional genre and his latest album is another step in the same direction, perhaps solidifying it even more firmly.

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