Skrillex’s debut album Recess trickled it’s way into the ears of eager fans through the Alien Ride app on March 10th, giving millions of people a chance to stream the album in it’s entirety before the album officially dropped on March 18th. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to at least appreciate Skrillex for not being afraid to embrace current trends in technology to reach out to his audience.
This being the first studio album put out by Skrillex, it made me wonder if it will live up to excitement caused by his My Name Is Skrillex EP back in 2010 which launched his career and did a hell of a job widening the dubstep audience in America. At this point many people who are familiar with Skrillex’s music are either fans or downright cynical, ex-fans. So has Skrillex captured lightning in a bottle once again? Well, yes and no.
Starting with “All Is Fair In Love And Brostep” featuring the Ragga Twins, you get a killer intro using some 50’s era audio samples which feels different from the norm when it comes to Skrillex, but the Ragga Twin vocals have a familiar sound to his “Make It Bun Dem” single. The album titled track “Recess” has a similar familiarity to his backlog while still sounding original if not just a bit gimmicky.
It’s not until you get to the third track, “Stranger”, that you start to hear something unlike anything else you have heard Skrillex produce. Instead of repeating samples and choppy vocals, you have a low beat and hypnotic vocals. The track progresses with a jungle style beat and a high pitch bass, yet the real fun is still to come. The progression of track reaches almost a complete stop and drops a slow but heavy beat and some lower LFO bass. It’s during this track that I felt like maybe Skrillex still had a few surprises left, or maybe he’s started to do some more experimenting. Either way, I think many people will like where this, and other new sounds on the album, are going.
“Coast Is Clear” featuring Chance The Rapper is another track you can’t just glance over. The jazzy keys and smooth lyrics sound rather out of place at first, however, once the drum and bass beat kicks you get the sense that you’re listening to an innovation if not the birth of a full blown genre. Maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but the clash of the three genres genuinely sounds tight and new.
The next two tracks take another interesting direction that isn’t too far off the beaten path for Skrillex but sound more refine and definitely catchy. “Dirty Vibe” featuring Diplo and Korean rap stars G-Dragon and CL doesn’t sound too far off from trap music and would probably be amazing to see with the vocalists live. “Ragga Bomb” once again featuring the Ragga Twins climaxes with a gritty LFO that sustains so you can indulge in the sound. When you have this same sustain on the gritty bass and Ragga Twins dropping lyrics with their bouncy cadence, you can really hear something magical about this new way Skrillex has chosen to use his familiar sound.
It’s in these specifically mention tracks where you can hear an indication that Skrillex is experimenting, innovating, and refining his style into something that is almost as sensational as his first EP. He may yet have a chance to recapture lightning yet again. The rest of the album is hit or miss to say the least; “Doompy Poomp” certainly is mystery of odd samples and will fall victim to the skip button.
The final track, “Fire Away”, would have had an more emotional impact if not for being preceded by a pretty spotty remix of “Ease My Mind”, which itself had emotions stirring until Skrillex dropped the ball on the melody. Nonetheless the closing track has a tame ambiance that creates a tender mood, showing another facet of his music that fans may have forgotten about. The lyrics are lackluster but the track still manages to connect emotionally.
Fans of Skrillex will absolutely love this debut album, while others will debate if he is making a comeback or hammering the last nails into his coffin. What is important though, is he shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, he’s stretching the limits of his style and doing some unforgiving exploration of what’s next on the horizon.