Perhaps the definitive Dubstep artist, Skrillex (real name Sonny John Moore) had to release a proper album by this time of his lengthy and interesting musical career. Having created some brilliant songs such as Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, as well as Bangarang, the largest releases prior to this album were EPs. This changed that, and this album was released back in 2014 to mixed reviews. Still, this album is a fairly historic one so let’s take a listen to the music here and see how it sounds.
All Is Fair in Love and Brostep features the Ragga Twins. It begins with some sampled commentary from a documentary and some interesting sonic-based sounds. Soon enough, this tune launches into an electronic frenzy before getting straight into it. It is a decent Dubstep tune with a touch of Reggae about it. A banging tune for sure, the vocals and sound effects are very postmodern and amazing sounding. A different tune, but it is good for what it is. It sounds like the musical equivalent of a ton of energy drinks, nicotine, and other drug-infused delights. Nonetheless, for an opening track, this is very good and has a fair share of interesting sounds, including an awesome breakdown in the second half, before this goes back into a clever frenzy of varied and cut-up vocals and samples. Nonetheless, a good starting point for such an album and something interesting to hear. Sure, it is fairly routine Dubstep music, but it does sound very futuristic. It ends with the repeated sample from the intro, followed by some glassy melodic sounds and a decent outro. Not bad.
Recess features Kill The Noise, Fatman Scoop, and Michael Angelakos. begins with school children background sounds and some basic beats, before launching into a piece with some rather awful Disco falsetto vocals and some Jazz based wind instrument sounds. Some screaming indicating that this needs to be played loud follows, and this gets loud and furious sounding. Eventually, it launches into a steady and decent groove based tune. Although Skrillex himself is popular for Dubstep mainly, he does venture out elsewhere to other worlds and domains in Electronic Music. This sounds fairly mainstream and has some Lil Jon style vocals throughout that are looped by Fatman Scoop. It has a breakdown with children screaming, followed by some interesting minor key melodies and some more of the awful falsetto vocals that are obviously autotuned. There are various changes and breakdowns in the second half. This is okay but lacks the magic of earlier Skrillex musical pieces. The ending is weird.
Stranger has KillaGraham and Sam Dew. It begins with some interesting salsa/samba beats and has a rather annoying loop before the vocals enter. This is actually quite good to hear and sounds very different compared to Skrillex’s other Dubstep bangers. It sounds a lot like Radiohead here and is probably intended to be so. Eventually, looped vocals stating, “I’m a stranger!” are here, leading into a fiery and passionate tune that sounds excellent, at least for what it is. This is definitely one of the better pieces from this album, and has a good variety of percussion, melodic pitch shifting, and sounds throughout. A really decent and different tune to hear from this album, Skrillex’s music does come across as intelligent and artistic, even if it isn’t overly consistent at times. There is a neat mix of sounds and textures in the breakdown, mainly percussion based, with distorted vocals and a sense of excitement here. It quickly launches back into the main tune, which is surprisingly good to hear. A decent and entertaining listen, it ends with the singing from the start. A very decent tune to listen to, this is excellent sounding.
Try It Out (Neon Mix) features Alvin Risk. This begins with a Trance melody in the background, along with some soft vinyl hiss, before launching into a piece with some really annoying vocal samples in various pitches. Soon enough, this launches into a more traditional Dubstep kind of tune. Yet, it lacks the catchiness of earlier tracks such as Bangarang and consistency as well throughout this tune. Sure, this is still enjoyable but possibly not for repeated listens. It does have some interesting sounds abound, although these are primarily more textural than really quality based. Some repeated and annoying vocals are here, before launching into an impressive and different digital groove that is back to classic Dubstep. A really interesting and different listening experience, this is awesome to conclude with but could have been done better regardless.
Coast Is Clear features both Chance The Rapper and The Social Experiment. It begins with some weird piano and studio chatter, which is fairly odd. Some keyboards over a dinner party style scenario then enter, and this terrible tune begins. The mixture of Skrillex and Chance The Rapper does not mesh well here, and this atrocious tune is just rubbish. Sadly, both artists had passed their peak by this point, and this is fairly obvious by this terribly mixed-up tune. The profanities don’t help things either, and this is really one to avoid. Chance The Rapper sounds like Macy Gray here, which is honestly laughable and really ordinary. A piece of junk on an otherwise okay album, this with the repeated phrase, “Do ya wanna f*ck?” isn’t exactly needed here. Let’s hope that Skrillex regrets making this particular tune, it is pure filler rubbish. Wonderful, not. It ends after four minutes of sonic torture. The outro is atrocious, too.
Dirty Vibe features future collaborator Diplo, along with G-Dragon and CL. It begins with repeated vocals that are annoying, followed by another really awful listening experience, as if the previous track wasn’t bad enough. Understandably, Skrillex wanted to make an album of variety. He succeeded at making variably awful music. The vocals are the mainstay of this piece, and the whole tune is centered around this. Nothing hugely special, it sounds as though Skrillex wanted to make a very annoying tune here. If so, well done, next. There are better examples of music in the EDM Dubstep field than this tune. The guest Rapping is okay, but by this point, one would advise stopping this album and seeking out The Chemical Brothers early releases. The second half with pretentious rapping isn’t wonderful, and other Rap albums make a better impact than this tune. Fortunately, it is only three and a half minutes long. Still, it’s awful.
Ragga Bomb features the Ragga Twins, again. It begins with some reversed melodic sounds, and nature sounds, and quickly launches into a trashy sounding tune with bombastic beats and a better sounding piece than what had come before. This is actually quite good and perhaps points out that, amongst the chaff, there is wheat from this album. Although this is a better effort than expected, the music here is still very ordinary. Skrillex was the best at making Dubstep classics, and perhaps he should stick to that formula. This is a very awful listen and is proof that much EDM is really terrible if you don’t look for the best of the best. Skrillex obviously needed to have a strategic rethink at this point. In the second half is a quick breakdown, with repeated vocals about dropping Ragga Bombs. Seriously, it sounds extremely dumbed down. Ordinary, and once again, worth skipping. Another track that is deserving to be thrown into the bin. It ends with some absolutely terrible sampled talk by the Ragga Twins. Bob Marley must be rolling in his grave right now.
Doompy Poomp begins with slowed down vocals, quickly launching into a very avant-garde and weird piece of electronic music. This is simple, minimal, and melodic, with some unusual cut-up sounds and beats. Surprisingly, this is actually an improvement on the previous few tracks. A good listening experience, it sounds very quirky. Again, Skrillex proves that his earlier works on EPs were much better than this post-Dubstep trash. It sounds interesting and good but falls short of great. This is not what one should expect from earlier works. It wears out its appeal fairly quickly, despite its short length. It concludes with a cut-up and slowed-down set of vocals and concludes with the same sounds it began with. Fairly ordinary.
Fuck That begins with some basic beats and some interesting sounds and samples. This quickly launches into another uninspired EDM tune that sounds repetitive and annoying. In any case, the sounds here are nicely layered and this, when it finally gets going, is actually quite good. Sadly, it is not enough to save an ordinary album but it works nicely on occasion. Rather enjoyable compared to most other tracks here, Skrillex is at his best when he is making individual songs, not really lengthy releases. This is a good listen which sounds very indebted to straight ahead Techno, but the disappointment of earlier songs lingers in this tune. A very weird listen, but it’s okay. Not phenomenal, however. It ends with a rather boring outro.
Ease My Mind features Niki & The Dove. It is an extended piece over five minutes long. It begins with some interesting percussion sounds. The guest gets singing away nicely, but this is not an album one would wish to be a guest on. In any case, the singing present is very beautiful and this is a nice melancholy ballad exhibiting deep emotions. This is something that Skrillex may have in his regular sets. Unfortunately, the intro is quickly destroyed once the song is put into reverse and it sounds very mixed, as a result. Sadly, Skrillex lacks focus here on his first solo album, and this is thoroughly disappointing. In the middle is another false ending (how unusual) and the melancholy ballad returns. Fortunately, this is worth skipping, but knowing Skrillex’s earlier works, this is disappointingly awful. This is a what-not-to-do if you ever make a highly anticipated Dubstep album, it is really rubbish. This song sadly suffers from the same treatment. Again, rubbish, and please avoid it. It ends predictably.
Fire Away is the last track here featuring Kid Harpoon. It begins with some guitar styled sound effects, before launching into a rubbish piece of music. Again by this point, the album has shot itself in the foot, which is sad. The autotuned vocals aren’t that impressive and this is really nothing inspired or original. The vocals are faded out before this tune launches into a chilled-out groove. It’s actually okay, but the album is a good waste of the better part of an hour to really enjoy this tune. The minimalism of this track is nicely done, along with the melodies. Otherwise, forgettable. The music here is very repetitive and predictable, and this album is really only worth hearing if you are a fan of post-Dubstep sounds. There is a breakdown in the second half that takes too long to get excited about. There is some melancholy piano, followed by weird clanking sounds and other melodies. Boring and annoying, this also is nearly six minutes long, which isn’t appealing. The outro is predictably annoying, and this junk of an album eventually concludes.
Honestly, Skrillex has failed here. Instead of making some banging party tunes that many can enjoy, he has created a very shoddy album that really lacks hooks, melodies, and musical sensibility. A very messed up and avoidable listening experience, the only audience that would really enjoy this album that belongs in the trash can are hardcore Skrillex fans. Everyone else should avoid this music. It’s extremely disappointing and lacking in consistency.