Album Review — Skrillex: ‘Recess’


Skrillex 2
Continuing the recent trend of surprise releases (a la Beyoncé), Skrillex (aka Sonny Moore) dropped his LP debut, Recess,yesterday. This release came after recent a Reddit AMA and a mysterious Alien Ride app that slowly released the songs starting at 6:30pm Monday night. The album itself hasn’t actually been physically released yet, but the tracks are available for listening and streaming in various places online, as well as on iTunes.

Skrillex’s new album has plenty of his classic sounds—the standard midrange bass wobbles along with plenty of chopped vocal lines. Skrillex’s continued talent for melodic lines is also showcased throughout this album, providing fans with plenty of material they can appreciate. At the same time, critics of Skrillex can easily point out that he hasn’t progressed too much musically. In that sense, this album feels much as Bangarang did: old Skrillex learns some new tricks. For that reason, much of this album can be very hit-or-miss and disconnected, such as “Stranger,” which feels like a more head-splitting than headbang-inducing attempt of an older Rusko style of super-high-pitched treble over sub-bass. Regardless of what side of the love-hate spectrum you’re on, Skrillex’s two collaborations with the Ragga Twins (“All is Fair In Love and Brostep,” “Ragga Bomb”), and “Try It Out” really encapsulate the Skrillex we all know, the latter of which reflects a refinement of his vintage sound.

Other parts of Recess show a mix of old Skrillex with some of the newer electronic trends that are gaining ground today. “Recess,” the title track, feels a lot like some of the newer “brostep”—less wobbles but more electro-flavor drums, with Lil’ Jon-esque yelling, meant to be blasted on the dance floor. “Coast is Clear,” meanwhile, can be seen as an extension of Skrillex’s recent collaboration with rappers, while also incorporates some liquid drum & bass.

 Skrillex and A$AP

“Fuck That” features a lot of sub-bass, sounding almost like a rip-off of jacking house or some of the rising music in the UK scene right now. An interesting track of note here is “Dirty Vibe,” featuring two K-Pop giants in G-Dragon and CL. This unlikely marriage of dubstep and Korean rap is weirdly catchy, although it probably won’t be making any international music splashes. However, it is the last handful of tracks that will have the greatest impression on longtime Skrillex fans and followers.

While much of this album barely borders on original by today’s standards, we can begin to see a sort of a departure from what we’re used to out of Skrillex. “Doompy Poomp” seems like an experiment in sampling, while “Ease My Mind” is a newer, reworked version of his remix of Niki & The Dove’s original song. Finally, the last track on the album, “Fire Away,” is something we haven’t yet seen from Skrillex. “Fire Away” shows perhaps a maturation of sound and production in a much more ambient style of electronic music. Though it is unclear whether “Fire Away” signals a change in Skrillex’s musical interests, it definitely leaves with a new sound to think about.

All in all, Recess is a genre-crossing electronic album that struggles to find cohesion. In some senses, Recess feels like a collection of Skrillex’s latest experiments, whether it’s innovating his own sound, taking in some new influences, or moving on to uncharted territory for him. With this album, we can’t be exactly sure of the direction Skrillex is heading, but there’re some hints that Skrillex might be moving on from the sound that made him famous. Regardless, for now, Recess gives fans and haters plenty to talk about.

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