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Flux Pavilion falls short of hype on ‘Blow the Roof’

Filler and needless repetition clutter album

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02

The album format is a bit of an anomaly in the world of dubstep. With so much of the genre’s fame and success based on singles and remixes, full−length offerings get minimal attention. This is consistent with the aesthetic of the genre, which is based more on shock factor, temporal excitement and emphasis than longevity and subtlety. Popular dubstep is the exclamation point of the electronic music scene, and most of the time it thrives in that role.

It is in that context that British producer Flux Pavilion (Joshua Steele) released his 8−track album “Blow the Roof.” As one of the better−known names in the genre, Steele has garnered attention in a number of ways, from having his work sampled by Jay−Z and Kanye West to working alongside Doctor P, Major Lazer and Nero. Between his broad back catalog and his nationality, Flux Pavilion’s connections to the roots of dubstep run deep.

Taken as a whole, “Blow the Roof” feels much longer than its 30−minute run time. The buildups are extensive and the bridges meander through both melody and dissonance. With a run time of five minutes and 13 seconds, “I Feel It” loses steam somewhere around the 2:15 mark and only regains it with a double−time section two full minutes later. “I Still Can’t Stop” — surely a tongue−in−cheek inclusion — is merely a chopped and screwed version of Flux Pavilion’s most popular track, 2011’s “I Can’t Stop.” Tracks like this fall flat and ultimately lend themselves to the use of the skip button. Even after the first listen, it is clear that not all of the material here is prime.

However, when Flux Pavilion is doing what he does best, “Blow the Roof” delivers. Opener “OneTwoThree (Make Your Body Wanna)” is chock−full of enough whomps and whistles to keep it entertaining while still toying with the dense Flux Pavilion sound. As the first song on the album, it is able to maintain the momentum that a single would. The eighth track and opposite−booked, “Starlight” provides a melodic groove that compliments the brash, dub−heavy tracks that precede it. Flexing an entirely different muscle than he did at the beginning of the album, Steele proves his ability to explore different styles with ease in the closing track.

The guests that litter “Blow the Roof” provide excitement at times, as in the case of P Money and Sway’s appearances on “Double Edge.” Sitting second on the album after the rather forgettable “The Scientist,” “Double Edge” is as raw and abrasive as they come. Flux Pavilion’s syncopated backbeat is the grimy environment that the MCs deserve as they lay down their verses.

On the flip side, Childish Gambino’s appearance on “Do or Die” feels strangely hollow. His smooth, cheeky flow doesn’t quite fit with Flux Pavilion’s sweeping instrumental backdrop. While “Double Edge” is a raucous exercise for both producer and MC, it doesn’t sound like either artist is enjoying himself on “Do or Die”.

Played from beginning to end, “Blow the Roof” is like a long car trip. It’s exciting at first, but eventually gets dull when experienced all at once. After a while, you can see yourself repeating it, but you really only want to return to a couple of sights along the way. Tracks like the title track, “OneTwoThree” and “Double Edge” hit hard when they stand alone. Sequentially, the album suffers from too much filler, which begs the question of whether Flux Pavilion’s preferred format should be the album. While single tracks show why he is one of the best−known names in the dubstep game, the full eight−track product is tough to stomach. Perhaps a shorter EP would have allowed the better songs to shine brighter. However, so long as one eighth of the album is a mediocre reworking of a two−year−old hit, its replay value will remain low.

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