At his greatest, Flume is chaotic, bizarre, and type of naughty. His most memorable tracks really feel a bit unsuitable: They sway towards the beat and break into harsh noise when one other producer of his stature would in all probability favor to insert a euphoric hook or ecstatic drop. His largest look within the press thus far—the primary time his profile as a celeb appeared to match the astronomical reputation of his music—sprung from Burning Man 2019, the place he pretended to eat his then-girlfriend’s ass throughout a DJ set. It was the uncommon second through which the Australian producer, born Harley Streten, appeared to genuinely be dwelling the Diplo-meets-Arca fantasy that his greatest music conjures.
Flume albums exhibit this puckish streak in matches and begins. 2012’s Flume and 2016’s Pores and skin nestled jagged instrumental gems like “Helix” and “Wall Fuck” amid extra forgettable, down-the-line producer/vocalist collabs; 2019’s Hello This Is Flume mixtape advised that Streten feels most at house when working with artists like Slowthai, JPEGMAFIA, and SOPHIE, unpredictable pop tricksters capable of meet him on his stage. That mixtape, and a handful of one-off collaborations with Toro Y Moi, London Grammar, Vera Blue, and Reo Cragun launched across the similar time, indicated that, like Charli XCX or Lil Wayne, Streten is most creatively free exterior the album format.
Palaces, the primary Flume “album” in six years, confirms this unreservedly. Though not with out its impressed moments, Streten’s third report most frequently looks like Pores and skin 1.5—a set of concepts that may have been novel earlier than Hello This Is Flume, however which now really feel stale compared to the extra attention-grabbing fare that’s come since. With little penchant for bedlam, it’s an album that lacks the precise factor that makes Flume’s music thrilling.
At its worst, Palaces feels downright formulaic. Three songs—“Highest Constructing,” that includes French vocalist and producer Oklou; “Escape,” with mainstay collaborator Kučka; and “I Can’t Inform,” with British musician Laurel—all use the identical conflict of vaporous vocals and fragmented synths that Streten has been leveraging for the reason that begin of his profession. It’s a predictable type of chaos, and, as ever, lyrics really feel largely unimportant: Traces like “Assist me elevate, I simply needed to flee” and “The place’ve you been, the place did you go? How are you going to sleep realizing you don’t know?” loosely evoke pathos with out coalescing into something genuinely resonant. Streten nonetheless largely treats his non-rap vocalists like samples, a trick that’s enjoyable on the primary go-around and irritating on the fourth or fifth.