Skrillex takes a recess from dubstep showing us all is fair in love and brostep.
Atlantic Records, 2014
5.0 / 10
I discovered Sonny Moore off of Bring Me the Horizon’s attempt to create a dubstep album out of their album Suicide Season. The song Skrillex remixed wasn’t even mildly as impressive as his original creations, but it put his name in my head. I looked him up, found Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites and went nuts with excitement when it started getting radio recognition from Live 105’s Subsonic. His music was some of the first that got metal-heads like me listening to dubstep, and it was because he easily transcended the metal-to-dubstep bridge with his experience in previous hardcore band From First to Last. He basically created an entire new wave of dubstep that merged the “oh my god, it’s coming” drop and the mesmerizing melodies that you could only find in trance. Producers started copying him all over the place and before we knew it, it was acceptable for metal-heads and punks to listen to dubstep. It placed him in control of this entirely new branch of electronic music and even when he would put out a song that swayed away from his staple like “All I Ask of You” or “With You Friends”, we still loved it because he’d created an accessible weirdness and adventurous aspect with his music that allowed him to take chances, and his fans would still listen to it.
Following Skrillex all the way back to his My Name is Skrillex EP released in 2010, we see that he introduced himself as a playful, screechy producer with songs titled “WEEKENDS!!!” and “Fucking Die” 1 and 2. It’s clear he got some of his influence from his hardcore roots, but there are elements of Justice’s electroclash as well. Even with his first work, he wasn’t afraid to experiment, and while this is why he attracted so many different types of listeners, his new album Recess seems to indicate that he isn’t satisfied with the plateau he has placed himself at with his sound, and he doesn’t really know where to go with it.
Recess is all over the place. There are attempts at liquid drum and bass with “Fire Away”, downtempo trap with “Fuck That” and straight up brostep with “Try It Out”, “Ragga Bomb”, and “Dirty Vibe”. Not to mention the WTF tracks that can’t even be classified like “Doompy Poomp” and “Stranger”. It’s mainly a brostep album and I appreciate that he does warn us of that with title track “All is Fair in Love and Brostep”, which dismisses the bad rap he’s gotten for going in this direction. I credit him for owning the negative connotations, but they’re negative for a reason and it’s somewhat depressing to hear Skrillex create an album primarily displaying hip-hop samples and high-pitched, high-frequency drops when we know he’s capable of so much more. Skrillex has completely earned the right to experiment and usually his fans love it, but Recess is lacking in accessibility and uniqueness.
There are sure to be festival favorites like “Recess” and “Easy My Mind” but even these are less accessible than usual. The drops are eerie and uneasy to the ear, incorporating more brostep elements now than ever. It’s possible Skrillex is ahead of his own game in that he wants to delve away from the norm that he’s created and show his fans there’s something new on the rise. This album could’ve worked better if it was broken down into smaller pieces, branching away from his staple slower to give his fans fair warning. But he doesn’t do that, and he’s created an album of mediocre-at-best tracks that feel more like an experimentally unpolished record than a display of his best work.