By Michael Sullivan
On May 27, 2016, Australian DJ Harley Streten, better known as Flume, released his sophomore album, “Skin.” After releasing his first album in November of 2012, Flume kept his fans waiting over three years for the release of his second album. Flume, famous for being the pioneer of the emerging downtempo-electronica music genre, blends elements of sharp electronic hooks with ambient bass sounds to create an album full of diverse electronic music.
Flume collaborates with many notable artists in his album, notably Beck, Little Dragon, Vince Staples, Vic Mensa and Kai, rather than boasting big-name artists because he started as an independent artist who made his name on SoundCloud.
The main message that Flume is trying to convey is that humans are imperfect by nature and will make many mistakes throughout their lives, and he uses his music as a vehicle to transmit this message to his listeners.
“Helix,” the very first song of the album, opens with a deep bass accompanied by light flutes to garner excitement and to serve as an epic introduction for the long-anticipated album. After a lengthy pause, the second part of the song features a steady buildup of electronic hooks and jabs to set up the third and final part of the song, a fast-paced stream of electronic bass and sharp beats. Overall, this song serves as a beautifully executed introduction to thrill listeners for what’s to come later in the album.
“Never Be Like You,” originally released as a single on Jan. 16 and the first of Flume’s songs to be certified Platinum in the United States, is the album’s standout hit. Featuring powerful vocals from artist Kai, this song blends resonant bass with piercing electronic pulses to inform listeners of events from Flume’s personal life. Notably, the song tells a story about one of Flume’s girlfriends from the past who ended their relationship and wants to get back together. The lyrics of the chorus– “I’m only human can’t you see, I made a mistake”– drives home the notion of the album that humans are imperfect by nature.
The concluding song of Skin, “Tiny Cities,” serves as an emotional finale to Flume’s album. Consistently referencing a girl from his past, Flume relays lyrics of the song – “It was never perfect. It was never meant to last” – to reinforce the concept of the album: humans, bound by skin, are imperfect and will eventually die.
Overall, “Skin” does an excellent job serving its purpose: driving home Flume’s message while blending electronic sounds in a new and diverse way.