Down under in Australia, Melbourne-based Flume (aka Harley Streten) is a big deal. He’s scored a number of entries in influential radio station Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown and will be one of their star home-grown billings at next year’s Big Day Out travelling extravaganza. That success is not just limited to his native homeland though – he wowed the crowds at SXSW and his following in Europe has been growing with each visit.
All of this served to make his eponymous debut a highly anticipated album for those around the world who hadn’t yet had the chance to hear it (it was originally released in Australia in 2012). So many producers fail to live up to the hype that’s poured on them from blogs and the like, but Streten should be applauded for rising up to the pressure with aplomb.
The work of Flying Lotus, another artist who seems to take inspiration from every conceivable genre, springs to mind given its eclectic nature. However, whilst his tracks have a tendency to come across as sonic snapshots, Flume is adept at finding strong hooks that dazzle the listener with one play; the Chet Faker-featuring Left Alone contains a chorus that rises above the bleeps and warped synths.
Chet Faker isn’t the only person giving Flume a helping a hand. A raft of friends offer their assistance on vocals – the standouts coming from T-Shirt during On Top, an exciting slice of wiry hip-hop, and Moon Holiday on Insane, an assured piece of electro-R&B. Away from the guest turns, it’s the slow jams, such as the excellent What You Need, that linger long in the memory. They’re euphoric, despite their eccentricities and laid-back vibes, and leave you so seduced that small irritants like the chipmunk vocal in Stay Close seem irrelevant.
Admittedly, for all of its peaks and variety, it’s not a perfect album. The construction of cuts like Warm Thoughts and the trippy and ever so slightly disorientating More Than You Thought is applied with such tact that it’s admirable, but it’s nowhere near as attention-grabbing as some of his more successful efforts. Space Cadet suffers from a similar fate, despite a pleasing aesthetic.
Ultimately though, these are just quibbles. It is true that, if you took out the weaker tracks, you’d be left with a highly impressive debut. Even so, Flume is an exhilarating mishmash of different styles that, whilst sometimes a bit too disjointed for its own good, is a lot of fun. It won’t be a surprise if Streten’s stock continues rise all the way towards the end of the year.