Music Reviews


(Young Turks) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

If you happen to be hosting a cocktail party with guests ranging from in-laws to pretentious urban DJs, SBTRKT just made creating a playlist for your party that much easier. The dubstep producer, also known as Aaron Jerome, presents a suave collection that appeals to many without sounding too contrived. If you’re craving an artistic upheaval, this album isn’t for you. Running parallel without hitting the same experimental climaxes of James Blake or The xx, SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract”) contains a fusion of dubstep, bass’n’drums, electro-pop, with R&B sprinkled on top. Mr. Jerome recruits Sampha, Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano, Roses Gabor and Jessie Ware as his vocalists extraordinaire. Although he doesn’t sing on the album himself, he deserves some credit for picking the right vocal players for his team. The tracks that feature these artists are actually the crux of the self-titled LP. The instrumental kicks aren’t really anything to write home about, but they do act as simple transitional elements.

The single Wildfire, which features Yukimi, is a Santogold/M.I.A type of creature with a smoother finish and will probably receive the most attention. It’s buttery and delicious with a throbbing beat and I guarantee every DJ in town will want to invent some sort of remix with it. I definitely hear the potential of this being an average radio-pop song, but there are seconds of friction that push it to dramatically sexy instead of mainstream. The four tracks featuring Sampha showcase the R&B side of the album and it’s this voice that most likely instigates the “too smooth” slams in other reviews. An understandable criticism, but when looking at SBTRKT as a whole, it’s hard to accuse the album of being disproportionate. Hold On and Trials Of The Past, for instance, carry that affective, honeyed sound in the vocals, whilst keeping a welcomed repetitive beat that reminds you you’re still in a grimy dubstep category. Although there’s nothing spectacular or innovative here, it has to be difficult to simultaneously have a foot in a variety of styles while constructing something that’s this easy to listen to. Unfortunately, I must say there were moments, like during Pharaohs, when I thought I was listening to a Toni Braxton hit from the 90’s. While I feasibly just performed a musical cock block by making that comment, I will stand by my slightly above average “7” and recommend giving this album a listen.