Album Reviews

Porter Robinson – Worlds

on August 11, 2014, 12:00am
porterrobinson C
Release Date
August 12, 2014
Label
Astralwerks
Formats
digital, vinyl, cd
Buy it on amazon

Like fellow main stage draws deadmau5 and Hardwell, 22-year-old Porter Robinson has been critical of the EDM revolution since he himself transformed the scene with his frantic, genre-blurring “complextro” soundscapes back in 2012. Unlike his contemporaries in criticism, Robinson has made a calculated shift away from his former career-defining sounds. His debut LP, Worlds, pivots toward the tender electronic layers of talents like M83 and Passion Pit. A step forward for his career? Depends if you measure success by Facebook “Likes”, iTunes downloads, and guarantees, or by earnest artistic development.

The idea of a new EDM renaissance is noble, but Robinson’s execution is frail. The first two singles, “Lionhearted” and “Sad Machine”, don’t just borrow from the high-pitched dance-pop of Michael Angelakos and co.; they seem ripped from the notebook for 2009’s Manners. Regurgitated motifs infest Robinson’s songwriting, leading to a debut that develops more like a remix compilation than a proper album. The beauty of “Hear the Bells” plays like a club manifestation of Arcade Fire, the ethereal electro vibes of “Fresh Static Snow” and album opener “Divinity” (feat. Amy Millan) evoke images of a Glitch Mob/The M Machine collaboration, and, unfortunately for Robinson, “Sea of Voices” lands a few months too late for inclusion on the Divergent soundtrack.

Attempting to bridge the kandi-ravers of EDM with the head-bobbers who fill indie dance floors, Robinson cannot avoid comparisons to his new, pop-leaning peers despite his differing musical background. With Worlds, Robinson and Universal Music Group’s Astralwerks are prepping the producer for a Calvin Harris-esque career — the type that earns Robinson production and songwriting credits on a few Number Ones throughout the course of a year by collaborating with regular Top 40 talent. So, should the likes of UMG’s Neon Trees need a club-ready remix at the end of an LP, they now have proven crossover talent in Robinson for the task. This transition alone doesn’t immediately cast a strike on the early stages of Robinson’s career, but an openness to restrict his own creative reservoir discounts Worlds‘ success.

Whereas William Orbit was able to balance his own artistic endeavors with studio collaborations, Robinson hides his former bass-fueled self behind the album’s sheen. It’s the beautifully schizophrenic beats of “Flicker” and modern breakcore of album closer “Goodbye to a World” that spotlight Robinson’s more intricate big room capabilities. Instead of truly moving either EDM or indie pop forward, Robinson teeters in a mundane middle ground. His ability isn’t lacking; Robinson just needs to ditch that indie pop crutch in order to strengthen his own voice.

Essential Tracks: “Flicker”, “Sad Machine”

5 comments

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A-game
September 23, 2014 at 11:03 am

I googled “why is Porter Robinson ripping off Passion Pit” because I heard a song and literally thought it was new stuff from them. nice to know that it’s being said elsewhere, and publicly. screw this guy.

Alse
August 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

hmm porter says in many interview that he dont want to try to change the edm , why a lot of journalist think that? he is just making the music that he like it! bad review

Joe
August 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

That was a truly pathetic review of an album that deserves a muchhhh higher grade. While I agree that there is definitely an influence of indie synthpop like passion pit/m83/chvrches I am thoroughly enjoying the album. I have a feeling the writer skimmed through each song halfway and hit next. Its an immensely impressive album with tremendous production and tons of little touches adding to the soundscape that keeps getting better with every listen. Doubly impressive when you realize Robinson just turned 22. Sounds like someone has a bone to pick with the ‘edm’ world.

Steve
August 12, 2014 at 7:47 pm

The writer makes a good point. But the buzz about the album is that its a “gamechanger.” While a positive step for Porter’s career it’s no game changer. The production is solid but not amazing and you can hear it when comparing it to the artists who he draws his influence from. Flume, m83, passion pit, Adam Beyer, Disclosure, etc. I’m excited for Porter’s next album but Worlds is not the best album of 2014 as many proclaim it is.

Guy
September 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm

@Joe Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

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