Whereas with most musical styles it is enough to stay relevant and move with the times, electronic dance music always needs to sound like a pathway to the future. It isn’t enough to be modern, part of the here-and-now, to be successful it should make you feel as if it is tumbling forward into tomorrow. And if you are not sure what that sounds like, just give the latest album from London duo LiiN a few spins.
Using a combination of high-end production, smart songwriting, infectious grooves, deft digitalia and cool analogue weaves, they have created a sound which pulses with forward-thinking sound statements. But all music is built, to some extent, by standing on the shoulders of giants and whilst Fentanyl Flowers is nothing if not the sound of a new sonic dawn, you can still hear the distant echo of those early pioneers running through its DNA from time to time. Those dispossessed ex-punks who traded in their guitars for second-hand keyboards and rewired them to their will. The result is something that is both totally fresh but still slightly familiar.
But that was then and this, this is definitely now.
Kicking off with the cool and gently infectious Sway, this opening salvo of liquid beats and addictive grooves tells you everything that you need to know about where LiiN is going to take you. This isn’t the high, energy attack of the hyper-charged end of the scene, nor is it in the totally chilled-out order of things, although it does occasionally stray into both those territories. But for the most part, Fentanyl Flowers operates in a very pleasing middle ground.
Leo offers some restrained and hypnotic tones and textures and at the other extreme…though extreme is probably not the right word, tracks like Messsix come on like a tight ball of energy creating a wonderful tension from the fact that it always seems as if it is going to explode into something bigger, more epic, and never does.
And then there is the hazy and gorgeous Exposed which seems to have a foot in both camps, one-moment offering lavish lulls, then heading out into more trippy territory. And oddly enough, when they are in this mode they remind me of Mercury Rev’s soundscaping, which is not a band I thought I would be referencing when I started listening to this album.
Fentanyl Flowers may be a dance album, on the face of it at least, but it is so much more than that. There is such sophistication and smarts in the way that these two build songs that it will have a much broader appeal. Discerning music fans from all quarters will find much to love here.