Wilkinson has been a much-talked about name following a string of successful singles and remixes that have seen him get healthy airplay on BBC Radio 1. He’s also won a National Drum And Bass award. All of this before Lazers Not Included, his debut LP, has even been released.
Those familiar with his work to date will have a rough idea of what to expect – tracks in the same vein as previous singles Heartbeat and After Glow. Lazers Not Included is, on the surface, a brash album with all guns blazing, but there is enough variety to keep things interesting and, more importantly, he knows what’s going to get people moving.
Wilkinson is more than capable of providing surefire bangers. Need To Know is as straightforward as you’d expect with its infectious bleepy synth melody whilst Heartbeat is pulsating throughout. There’s also Like It Hard has a beat that refuses to stay still, constantly alternating as the track goes on; and if you couldn’t guess from its title, this is also the album’s most sexually-charged tune by a country mile. Elsewhere, Take You Higher aims firmly for euphoria whilst Heatwave is an unrelenting slice of beefed up grime enhanced by K Flay‘s fiery rapping.
There isn’t much opportunity for the listener to take a breather but, as After Glow demonstrates, there are moments where the aim isn’t just to get people dancing. Aiming firmly for melancholy, Wilkinson is more than happy to hold some parts of the aesthetic back, which allows Becky Hill to put her stamp on things with an assured vocal performance. Too Close also offers some rest as does the ultra-slow Let Me Be Free, the latter of which utilising Detour City to great effect. The lion’s share of these emotionally-tinged tracks dominate the middle third but, remarkably, does enough to keep the momentum going.
As such, it brilliantly sets up the final third to bring everything home and finish with a bang. Tonight starts off in a slightly wonky manner but it is a straight-up banger that will hit the spot with ravers. This is then followed by Need You and Redemption. The former is buzzy and makes smart use of a steel drum whilst the latter is an impenetrable mix of hard beats.
Lazers Not Included manages to combine aspects of jungle, drum and bass, grime and hard electro effortlessly and the album, as a whole, makes for an exhilarating listen. For his keen followers, the wait will almost certainly have been worth it. For everyone else, this is a confident introduction to what Wilkinson can do.