I first heard Flume in one of those ambient mixtapes that were really popular last summer. I would have been doing an annoyingly pretentious alternative sport like slacklining or acroyoga with Holdin’ On booming out of a portable speaker. That’s how Flume sounds best, in the background so you feel like you’re a faceless girl photographed for a remix track posted to YouTube. A whole album of him was a little too much for me.
I managed to catch his set at Radio One’s Big Weekend, and even then Flume (real name Harley Edward Streten) put on a great show, combining tracks from his 2012 self-titled debut and freshly released sophomore record Skin seamlessly. The progression of tracks like the lead single Never Be Like You is clear, and the song itself stands out compared to other electronica. It dives off the platform that acts like Purity Ring and Grimes have set up with experimental beats and strange lyrics delivered by what sound like fairy tale creatures. It’s something I’ve always been fond of, and Never Be Like You captures it well without sounding like a carbon copy. It is the best thing on the album. It’s just a shame that it is track two, as it only goes downhill from there for me.
Even with guest artists like AlunaGeorge, Tove Lo, and everybody’s favourite Scientologist Beck, it feels like something is missing from the album. Sometimes electronica and DJ focused acts can be too emotionless, but that’s not the case for Flume. Everything almost works, but the move towards harder beats is hit and miss. The album is pretty long too – sixteen tracks – and whilst tracks such as Innocence, Say It, and Tiny Cities (featuring the above artists in respective order) stand out, they make me want to go and listen to those artists, rather than this album. It’s not that Skin isn’t interesting, it’s just unfortunately forgettable.
About half of the album grows on you, but I forget the other half of it almost immediately after the album has finished. However, it is definitely an album fit for a purpose: alternative sports practice, or in a DJ set in a club. I don’t want to dislike it, as the experiments sometimes do work, but when they don’t, you know about it. For that, it gets a solid 2.5⁄5 and me crossing my fingers and waiting for his next release. You can do it Flume, I know you can.