Flume's new single, Let You Know, deepens his connection to pop
Teaming up with London Grammar's Hannah Reid, the single bridges the gap between Skin and Hi This Is Flume.
Despite years of electronic music domination - both in Australia and internationally - 2019 sets to be somewhat of a defining year for Flume. Earlier this year, he returned with Hi This Is Flume - a long-winding, 17-track release that after the commercialised taste of his 2016 returning album Skin, set him back on track as one of electronic's most experimental and forward thinking. There were a few big takeaways from the mixtape - notably his ability to mix hip-hop and boundary-breaking electronic through collaborators like slowthai and JPEGMafia (both of which join him on 2019's Listen Out lineup) and his drive to be bent on experimentation and do things unlike anyone else - and while there was a lot to decode within the mixtape's many sounds and collaborations, the general consensus was that Hi This Is Flume brought the polar opposite of what he presented us on Skin - no desire for accessibility or 'radio-friendliness', but instead, something more over-arching and creative that takes us back to his debut.
As a result of this experimental twist, Hi This Is Flume seemingly ended Flume's exploration of the electronic-laden pop music he had spotlighted so heavily on Skin. Some of his pop-centric collaborators made a return - KUČKA the obvious - but the bright hooks of Tove Lo and Little Dragon stepped aside for Eprom's glittering synths and JPEGMafia's light-hearted but focused verses, a complete 180 from Skin and the somewhat controversial embrace of pop music that the album centred. While we froth Flume's experimental side and everything it brings, the only lowlight of Flume's returning mixtape came through his lack of pop-centric songwriting and connection to those big, pop hooks that were so heavily featured on Skin. At a time when pop music feels somewhat stagnant - perhaps evident on super-artists like Katy Perry failing to chart well despite hyper-accessible comeback songs - Flume's forward-thinking approach to the genre might've brought something new and undiscovered, and it feels like a missed opportunity to not deepen that following the open arms that welcomed his last record.
In saying that, however, the second half of 2019 seemingly sees Flume re-centre his focus on bridging the gap between Hi This Is Flume's experimentalism and Skin's accessibility, with Let You Know - a new single featuring London Grammar's Hannah Reid - it feels the beginning of this bridge is beginning to form. On the surface level, Let You Know brings Reid's well-recognised falsetto together with a production which feels like a continuation of Hi This Is Flume's warped sound; her vocal somehow jigsawing into place amongst Flume's clanging, off-centre percussive hits and the piercing, high-pitched synth squeals that were heavily focused upon throughout Hi This Is Flume's production.
It doesn't really feel like a continuation of Skin. For the most part, the album was focused too heavily on guest collaborators and their vocal, often drowning out Flume's experimental twists in favour of searching for something more accessible and enticing to those catching onto his rise in a post-Flume world. Let You Know doesn't; Hannah Reid's vocal has its own lane and doesn't take away from the single's production as much as it perfectly complements it, hinting at the musician's growth as a pop songwriter having experienced its highs - and lows - through Skin's creation and long roll-out. It's an exciting step where Flume feels accessible but still distinctly Flume, and it's a step that with all eyes on the producer for the rest of 2019, we can't wait to see further dived upon and explored.
Catch Flume at Listen Out 2019.
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