A pop step too far?

Pop dubstep? Fuck right off! Almost anyone except scene originators Skream, Benga and Artwork would be beaten heavily with their own dubplates for attempting such a thing. Except the architects of the most popular underground sound since drum and bass have a vision.

And it’s populist, meaning these fourteen tracks as a collection, released on a major label, is set to divide the most opinion this year. It’s brimming with instrumental bangers (‘K Dance’, ‘Ping Pong’, ‘Mad’, ‘Cross Over’) that could’ve easily saw inclusion on a Skream or Benga album. Massive drops.

Then there’s their evolution of ‘songs’. Dubstep was always an amorphous yet instrumental disciple, but Skream’s remix of La Roux saw the ground shift for this crew and they want to retain power. ‘Getting Nowhere’ witnesses John Legend guest on such a unique and melancholic monster it gifts this review a whole score point alone, whilst Miss Dynamite’s ‘Fire’ is as kinetic as any floor filler at dubstep’s altar, club night FWD>>. But then there’s the pop. ‘Perfect Stranger’, a trance-drenched cry with Angela Hunte squealing over-exhausted jungle loops. ‘I Need Air’ (the Top Ten single) is only redeemed from tired trancey autotune by the fact the drop is a pop Trojan horse of two-step.

This schizophrenic album will frustrate purists and sate pop kids. Purists note though there’s some gems here: you just need to battle past the transient twaddle and look beyond your own niche to enjoy them. Maybe a step too far for the obsessive bass freaks.


Words by Matthew Bennett

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