Sonny Moore, also known as Skrillex, is in a very convenient position in his career. He may not be making the most money in the music industry, he doesn’t have the most Facebook fans and he definitely isn’t the most critically acclaimed artist. Still, there are few musicians who are in the same spot he’s in; the spot where he can do practically whatever he wants because nobody’s going to change their mind about him.
We can all only dream of being there. Imagine knowing for a fact that the people who hate you will continue to hate you no matter what you do, and that the people who like you are likely to stick with you, as long as you continue to meet their expectations.
Ever since he released “My Name is Skrillex” in 2010, Moore has been releasing some of the finest dance music in recent years, improving every year and adding a little something new with each release. But, he’s still a punching bag for critics and (mainly) the Internet, being a go-to representation of everything wrong with modern music. That is, of course, ridiculous. If Moore’s “Bangarang” (2011) represents everything wrong with modern music, we’re living in utopia.
Skrillex is not terrible in the least. Rather, he’s a talented electro musician who doesn’t try to break new ground. He may just be following the example of musicians who came before him, but he follows their examples well. At the very least, he knows how to write a hook.
“Leaving,” his new EP, was released under interesting circumstances, being uploaded in its entirety to his YouTube page. Two of the three tracks, “The Reason” and “Leaving,” were recorded in hotel rooms, while “Scary Bolly Dub” is, according to Moore, used mostly as a DJ tool. That sounds like something that could potentially result in a sloppy EP, but “Leaving” is surprisingly up to par with previous Skrillex records.
And that’s pretty much all people need to know before listening to “Leaving.” If you liked “Bangarang,” you’ll probably like “Leaving.” But if, like me, you love “Bangarang” for being the fun, poppy experience it is, you’ll probably find “Leaving” a bit lacking in that department.
I was worried about the EP as soon as I saw Spin describe it as “Burial-borrowing.” Burial is great, but the idea of Burial-esque Skrillex is as concerning as any concept brought forth in music in a long time. “Leaving,” thankfully, is not as Burial-borrowing as Spin claimed, but it’s still darker than past releases. The opening track “The Reason,” which was finished only an hour before the EP was released, is particularly downbeat. Meanwhile, the only track that is truly fun at a “Bangarang” level is “Scary Bolly Dub,” which is very easily the main highlight.
“Leaving” shows Skrillex going in a different direction. This time, the direction was even more critic friendly. Critics still aren’t buying though, and they probably won’t for a long time. The smartest thing he can do is realize this, and use it as a chance to explore, take chances and completely stop caring, while hopefully continuing to sound good. It will be fascinating to see which way he goes with his first full-length album, due for release this summer.
Key tracks: “Scary Bolly Dub.”