March 11, 2014


Skrillex's 'Recess' Album: A Track-by-Track Breakdown

1. "All is Fair in Love and Brostep" ft. Ragga Twins

Recess' first track lays vocals from dancehall duo Ragga Twins over sawtoothed dubstep drops, shrieking synths, laser-tag splurts and found-sound samples. This is what you expect a Skrillex song to sound like while serving as a logical opener for an album that expands his sound.

2. "Recess" ft. Kill the Noise, Fatman Scoop and Michael Angelakos

The title track features the album's most bizarre pairing: Iconic rap hypeman Fatman Scoop and the falsetto-loving lead singer of Passion Pit. But Skrillex treats each like a sample, and as such "Recess" is pure sound collage. It's also a reminder of how focused Recess is on delivering the feeling of a live show. This track is punctuated by build ups explicitly tailored to a crowd. That said, utilizing Fatman Scoop is a novel way of adding another link between EDM and hip hop.

3. "Stranger"

After two straight pulverizing tracks, "Stranger" bends the album toward groove-based dance music. With a deep house beat providing the backbone, this track still makes room for the type of breakdowns—acidic synth tones, handclaps, "trap" drums—you'd hear on a post-EDM Major Lazer album.

4. "Try it Out (Neon Mix)" ft. Alvin Risk

Recess' lead single is classic Skrillex: The track has rap and pop flourishes, but it's built around scraping drops that feel like hitting pavement face-first.

5. "Coast is Clear" ft. Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment

With its soulful horn riffs, twinkling pianos and footwork percussion, "Coast is Clear" would sound more at home on Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap than it does on Recess. Still, it works well here as a light palette cleanser that shows off Skrillex's blossoming versatility.

6. "Dirty Vibe" ft. Diplo, G-Dragon and CL

"Dirty Vibe" opens like a song Skrillex might have created a few years ago, with samples pitched-up and manipulated in service of the drop you can feel coming miles away. But it develops into a track that showcases his newfound clout: the final half of the track is dominated by slick and gleefully vulgar verses from 2NE1's CL and K-pop superstar G-Dragon.

7. "Ragga Bomb" ft. Ragga Twins

Truth in advertising: "Ragga Bomb" sounds exactly like its title indicates it would, with Ragga Twins chanting "drop the, drop the bomb" in thick, manipulated voices over drum and bass percussion. Of all the tracks on Recess up to this point, this one feels the most rote.

8. "Doompy Poomp"

This is Recess' most overtly experimental track, with a glitchy beat building into something that sounds like a scratchy vinyl recording of a lost Italo disco instrumental. It doesn't exactly hold together, but it's an interesting sketch.

9. "F That"

The central vocal sample of "F That" is a loop of a man saying "F--k that beat up," but considering the track, it feels a bit ironic. "F That" is Recess' most unassuming track, finding Skrillex toying with rhythms in a way that feels implicitly navel-gazing.

10. "Ease My Mind" ft. Niki & The Dove

Here Skrillex essentially remixes Niki & The Dove's thumping ballad "DJ Ease My Mind," throwing some drops under the vocal track in a way that feels pro forma and even a bit dated, especially considering the sounds he folds into Recess elsewhere.

11. "Fire Away" ft. Kid Harpoon

"Fire Away" ends Recess on a whisper, with Skrillex pushing his sound about as close to IDM as it ever has. For an album that's a booming festival record, it ends on a decidedly somber note, as Kid Harpoon sings, "Take me with you when you go / Fire away, f--k this place that we call home."