Album Review: Skrillex – ‘Recess’

The name Skrillex has made its way into every teenager’s home it seems. He must be, without a doubt, the most overhyped name in the music industry today while at the same time also being the most under-appreciated. Let’s not forget that Skrillex was partially responsible for the resurgence of Electronic Dance Music in the late 2000’, he’s been nominated for 8 Grammy’s having won 6, rubbed shoulders with who-is-who of the celebrity A-list and all this at the age of 26. No mean feat. But one look at his entire discography and one get’s the feeling that some of his decisions could be deemed as rash, spasmodic, repetitive at best and quite often totally off-the-wall and that’s when you really do get the feeling that he still has some growing up to do.

Skrillex Photo

Like any public figure, Skrillex, or Sonny John Moore as his parents call him, has a legion of loyal fans but not without his fair share of haters. In true Beyonce style, Recess was dropped practically out of thin air. No mystery tweets from his account, no publicity, just a low-key App titled “Alien Ride” which was uploaded to  Apple’s App Store on March 7th. The App contained a secret folder with 11 hidden objects and a countdown ending March 10th at 6:30 EST. The official Skrillex website was updated with the App’s picture on the front page and was later revealed to contain a folder of Google Play and iTunes links which were released to his fans one at a time. Naturally these links were in fact the 11 new songs available to stream and which made up his latest offering titled “Recess”. A novel and entrepreneurial idea, I’ll give him that much.

Is it any good?

Skrillex - 'Recess' Album CoverYes and no. It’s Skrillex at the core. Look no further than opening track ‘All Is Fair In Love And Brostep’ which oozes Skrillex through and through. It’s one of two collaborations with the Ragga Twins and had me bobbing my head along to it from beginning to end. Track 2 is the album title track, featuring the likes of Kill the Noise, Fatman Scoop and Michael Angelakos; and that’s where my interest really started to fade. I almost had to double check to see if my iPod had accidentally skipped to another album, but no, it was still ‘Recess’. Track 3, ‘Try It Out’ perked my interest for a minute or so while 4 and 5 had me pushing the ‘Next’ button within the first 30 seconds. Track 6 sees the second collaboration with the Ragga Twins in the aptly titled ‘Ragga Bomb’. Like ‘All Is Fair In Love And Brostep’, it too follows the Skrillex staple formula. ‘Doompy Pomp’ is somewhat of an ill-conceived homage to the likes of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, with Skrillex admitting on more than one occasion that he is a big fan of the scene and these two very influential heroes not to mention innovators. Does the tribute work? Well, not really. Disjointed at best, coming across as a b-side that should have perhaps stayed filed under “Work In Progress”. With 3 remaining songs, I skimmed through them and pretty much gave up.

So what does this say about Skrillex?

The album is hit and miss. Some of it is cleverly crafted and no doubt will make it’s way through the EDM charts and possibly cross over into the mainstream Top 40. His loyal fan-base will surely defend him, his choices and the album, and no doubt it will be a commercial success by today’s standards. But the reality is, as popular as the name Skrillex is, his music is still confined to what he is known for and what he does best. Any attempts to push the envelope in ‘Recess’ have fallen flat, sounding more like experimentations and leftover ideas, a “let’s test the waters why not” approach. In reality he’s got nothing to lose but this is one album I would personally rather forget. No doubt the internet will be ripe with the “It’s brilliant” and “It sucks” comments from fanboys and haters – let me know who wins.

‘Recess’ is available through i-Tunes as of March 18th.

Here is the album opening track ‘All Is Fair In Love And Brostep’.

 

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