How does it feel to be one of the most in demand men in pop? If you want to know the answer you could do worse than ask Harley Streten aka Australia’s Flume. Currently his new album is flying high, tracks he’s produced for the likes of AlunaGeorge are on heavy radio rotation and the record label he is signed to Future Classic is seen as being one of the hippest around. However, none of these things make a good album.
What does make a good album is high quality production and Flume’s Skin is all about production values. The standard is high and the quality near perfect, it’s these production values, which set Flume apart and put him closer to the league of pop star than electronic beat maker.
Skin is actually a pretty chilled listen with some glistening hip hop tracks and a heavy 80s synth vibe. But this vibe never escalates to ratchet levels, rather each track comes at you gently, suckering you into weird yet insanely catchy pop.
Australia has never fully embraced electronic music, it has for many remained a land of big guitars and heavy rock. However, in the last couple of years that has started to change and Flume has played a big part in this. Credit where credit is due to make his sensitive style of electronic music popular Down Under has taken some hard graft. It’s this hard won success through attempts at flawless production, which is now resulting in the world falling at Flume’s feet.
The album’s two already massive singles feature early on in proceedings, the shimmery Never Be Like You sounding like something by Lorde whilst Say It starts off like a traditional pop song with Tove Lo’s chart topping vocals, however, as the beat drops things become weirder, tropical and more hypnotic.
Much has been made of the collaborations on this album and many of them stand out as strong contributions. None is stronger perhaps than the appearance of Raekwon whose flow is as strong as it has ever been. Much like the rest of Wu Tang, Raekwon is a story teller and his appearance takes the track You Know, somewhere it probably couldn’t have gone without him. Whilst the guest appearances on Skin are impressive, Flume keeps things interesting on his instrumental tracks, which mostly carry a beat heavy tropical feel.
Despite heavy beats, tropical feels and hip hop collaborations the overall vibe of Flume’s album is very relaxed. Flume has created what may be summer’s ultimate chill out album and I am entirely certain summer evenings, summer romances and sunsets will be perfectly sound tracked by Skin.
If pop music continues to sound as varied, well produced and grown up as Flume makes Skin feel then the charts in years to come could be a lot more enjoyable than Simon Cowell has made them.