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Review || Worlds Has Porter Robinson At His Most Consistent

Porter Robinson - Worlds [Album Review]

By: Eugene Carolus

Porter Robinson  Worlds Album Review

Worlds is causing something of a stir in electronic music circles, and it's already clear it's going to mean different things to different  people. For the average EDM festival attendee, it's being touted as the game changer we've all been waiting for. However, for someone with a musical palette that extends just beyond the Beatport chart, this album could just come off as a paint by numbers attempt at every chill wave and indie-pop stereotype in the book. Worlds at times feels like the result of locking up a 90s-born teenager in a room with the task of replicating Oracular Spectacular era MGMT and Passion Pit with nothing but a computer and a diet of gummi bears and anime shows.

Despite that, it would be unfair to discredit what he has created here, if anything he's managed to develop some of the most impressive examples of how EDM-informed pop could be done and done right. It's straight synth-pop, inspired in equal parts by Japanese kawaii imagery, the Sad Boy movement, 8bit videogames and sentimentalism. Album singles like Lionhearted and Flicker are perhaps the strongest examples of this, each bursting with colour, vitality and subtle references to disco.
Some of the most captivating moments come in the form of Sea of Voices with its shimmering orchestral build up, and an apparent Hatsune Miku inspired duet with a vocaloid on Sad Machine which is probably one of the most memorable moment in music in general so far this year.

For all the sparkling prettiness of much of the album, Porter still manages to slip in a few moments where the basslines seemingly bite back and growl as seen on Fresh Static Snow and towards the end of Flicker. Perhaps the most startling moment of all comes at the tail end of a pristine, almost oriental ochestral intro in Fellow Feeling where the song launches into an unforgiving assault of the hard hitting techno you'd expect from Happa, Karenn and Blawan. All of this is accompanied by a vocal sample which is the closest this album comes to a possible apology and explanation for his jaded oulook on formulaic, festival stage EDM:

"Let me explain this ugliness, this cruelty, this repulsiveness, it will all die out and now I cry for all that is beautiful."

Porter admitted in a recent Reddit AMA that part of what his Spitfire EP and earlier works were was an attempt at showing how many tricks he had under his belt as he ranged from gritty dubstep to heavier electro and moombahton all within the space of a few songs. Though Worlds has Porter at his most consistent, there are moments where he just cannot resist switching up beats and certain ambient, ethereal stretches are interrupted with a proggy beat like on Sea of Voices instead of going all the way and allowing the song to truly stretch out and explore unknown territory.

Worlds doesn't feel out of place in 2014, as it draws on the feeling of being somewhat inevitable with artists like Flume occupying the charts. What it does though is carves out a niche area in the void that will now act as a point from which Porter can be referenced back to. Perhaps the only thing that mattered before this is Language, his crowning moment, which lives on in spirit throughout Worlds. Whether this album feels like an "EDMer's guide to M83 and Crystal Castles" or not, you simply cannot take away the amount of heart in Language that now permeates and flourishes throughout the many textures and landscapes in Worlds.

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