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Porter Robinson - Worlds

Porter Robinson - Worlds

The wait is finally over. After teasing us for the past 5 months with a steady stream of singles, Porter Robinson has finally released his debut album,Worlds. As the pre-release singles suggested, Worldsrepresents quite a departure from the Porter Robinson fans have long adored as the bass-dropping producer who brought them the now-iconic electro house song "Language." For Robinson,Worldsis an opportunity to redefine himself, a remarkable goal for someone who is only 22. Robinson iswholly aware of the album's potential to alienate his past fans, as not only is he turning his back on the genre that made him successful, but he also plans to distance himself from the festival culture EDM has slipped into. But for Robinson,Worldsmeans something deeper than mainstream success: it's him showing his true self.

Immediately, Robinson's aim of complete reinvention is clear. The standard four-on-the-floor beats, predictable build-ups, and bass drops heard in every EDM single nowadays are nowhere to be found on this album. Instead, we are given ultra-lush synths and melodies to sit back and listen to, as an experience.The album's tone is set by a trio of vocal-driven, nostalgic, synth-drenched tracks, including one of the pre-release singles "Sad Machine," which features Robinson in his vocal debut, singing alongside a female Vocaloid voice, telling a strangely emotional story of a human boy meeting a robot girl. While at first, the album seems to be going in a distinctly synthpop direction, Robinson then hits us with "Flicker," arguably the most standout track of the album. "Flicker" is remarkably versatile, featuring a rather funky bass and guitar line, overlaid by chopped-up Japanese vocals and interspersed with underwater-like synths plus even a bass-driven interlude faintly reminiscent of the old Porter, all combined to create a deeply moving, nostalgic feeling.


At times, the constant nostalgia evoked throughout the album can get a bit emotionally draining, as subsequent tracks continue to reinforce Robinson's new collection of synths and almost obsessive predilection for robotic-sounding vocals of a Japanese flavor. However, Robinson eventually carves out his own style of synthpop through his numerous collaborations, which create a bit of vocal variety and allow him to really explore his midtempo tracks. Therefore, listeners who enjoy these opening tracks will likely dig the fact that Robinson is diving in and milking his apparent M83 and CHVRCHES influences. Yet, others may find the first half of the album to be a bit repetitive.

The second half of the album shows a much more experimental side of Robinson, as he attempts to fuse even more genres together, specifically orchestral, film score-esque layering and industrial music along with pure electronic synthpop. “Natural Light” bars an uncanny resemblance to Flume’s remix of “You & Me” by Disclosure, perhaps signaling Robinson’s intent to identify with the up-and-coming Australian scene, another uprising which has begun to challenge the current lackluster state of popular EDM. “Lionhearted,” another pre-release single, is another welcome change of pace as a more upbeat song, making it probably the most DJ/dance-friendly track of the album. Next is “Sea of Voices,” the first pre-release single of the album, which initially hinted at Robinson’s new direction with its drenching synth chords (see my previousreviewof "Sea of Voices"). Then comes “Fellow Feeling,” a track rivaling “Flicker” in its innovation and genre-defiance. “Fellow Feeling” is quite a cinematic piece, alternating between a repeating building violin melody and glitchy electronic sections with little regard for musical order. Perhaps Robinson’s most ambitious and interesting track to date, “Fellow Feeling” leaves the audience with vague sense of having undergone a journey filled with wonder. Robinson closes out the album with “Goodbye To a World,” a fitting ending track riddled with allusions to World’s defining characteristics: nostalgic synths and hauntingly emotional robotic vocals.

YouTube - Porter

With Worlds, Porter Robinson opens himself up to ask his fans to accept the real him—no longer the same electro-house producer who brought us “Language” and Spitfire. At only 22, Robinson has already matured and blossomed into a more refined producer, concerned with better musicality and melody over festivals and club DJing. Worlds might has a few moments of staleness, especially when Robinson sounds like a kid who can’t stop playing with his new toys (who also might be overinfluencd by his role models), but overall, the album not only showcases and clarifies Robinson’s new and unique identity, but also promises a number of directions Robinson has yet to fully explore. He might lose a few fans with this album, but ultimately, Robinson’s star power might also help usher in a new era of mainstream electronic music. Robinson’s recommitment to himself has yielded a very impressive debut on Astralwerks, leaving us even more excited for what may come next.

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