Love him or hate him, you know his name, and you’ve made fun of his haircut. Three years after dropping his debut EP, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Skrillex’s first full-length album, Recess, pushes the boundaries once more. Despite his efforts to diversify, Skrillex doesn’t abandon his distinctive brostep sound, retaining his spot among the most divisive contemporary dance musicians.
“All is Fair In Love and Brostep” starts the album off with a loud, assaulting reminder of Skrillex’s past work. Intense pounding synths span the track, interrupted only by heavily distorted vocal samples and deafening drops.
On this lead track and on “Ragga Bomb,” Skrillex features the Ragga Twins, incorporating elements of their British old school jungle, a genre influenced by reggae and dancehall that relies on heavily syncopated percussion and fast bass-heavy beats. Though a calculated incorporation of the roots of Skrillex’s brostep, his collaboration fails to do justice to old school jungle as the reggae influence syncopation and rudeboy lyrics are drowned out by the aggressive onslaught of percussive synths.
On another collaboration, “Coast is Clear” featuring Chance the Rapper, Skrillex nods to drum and bass, another British electronic music genre, in his use of a fast, shuffling breakbeat. This song is another attempt to highlight Skrillex’s roots but is unsuccessful as the elements of drum and bass are overpowered by the assertiveness of the drops and synthesized shuffle of the track. Chance’s vocals are tacked on top of messy percussion and do not add anything but dissonance and distraction atop an already cluttered track.
Recess does have moments of cohesion, when Skrillex doesn’t include superfluous and conflicting elements. “F*ck That” is one of these moments, as a stripped down, deep bass breakbeat without the obnoxious relentlessness of his typical heavy synth lines. The result is a dark dance track reminiscent of British dubstep, a genre that has been tainted by the heavy robotic drops that it is often associated with today.
Skrillex attempts to expand his repertoire beyond the entertainment value of his sweaty locks and hardcore brostep. Recess may have been an attempt to take a break from Skrillex’s recent work, but instead it cements his polarizing, Grammy winning identity. The guy isn’t taking a break.
Voice’s Choices: “F*ck That,” “Fire Away”