This may come as a surprise to most, but the hype phase of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is coming to a close. No longer do deejays have to create the loudest bass and the catchiest synth pattern to receive recognition from the public. Daft Punk started this trend by bringing a new level of authenticity to electronic music with their grammy winning album, Random Access Memories, and since then electronic artists have responded in multiple ways. Many groups such as Disclosure are attempting to revive the 80’s with their version of funk and disco, but there are plenty of artists like Calvin Harris and who are holding on to the universally accessible lyrics and booming beats with all their might.
Considering Mr.Harris made $66 million last year without really changing his style, there is no shame in the latter whatsoever. EDM heads need the monster hits like “Summer” and “Wake Me Up,” to keep the party going the same way they need more low-key tracks to establish EDM as more than just a fad.
However, when an artist doesn’t have the courage to go underground and is to prideful to go mainstream, they end up with a bunch of monotonous tracks that lack in both energy and creativity, and that’s what happened to Dragan Roganović’s (better known as Dirty South) new album, With You.
Every song on this album had so much potential that I guess Roganović didn’t feel like using. They all start out with a similar chordal synth pattern and then come the lyrics that everyone expects from an EDM song. Every electronic banger that has made its way to top 40 playlists has a similar vocal break with a similar message. “Levels.” “Latch.” “Cinema.” All of those songs have lyrics about having fun and loving someone, and that description fits perfectly into every song on With You. Here’s the chorus from the closing track “Unbreakable”:
Now we feel unbreakable /All my wicked days are gone /Where we\’re going?/We don\’t know /Like tornados,/we will grow /You will learn to know /You\’re beautiful, beautiful /You will learn to know / You\’re beautiful, beautiful
Sound familiar? Well it should. The thing is though, the huge drop that usually follows these kinds of lyrics is replaced by a subtle dance beat that might as well make you fall asleep.
From the standpoint of composing, With You is basic, but that doesn’t mean Roganović has lost his production quality. Each song as well as the album as whole moves along seamlessly. New melodic ideas enter and exit with intimate precision, while the music compliments each vocalist in a unique and provocative way. However, when the song builds to the climax, the melodic ideas that flowed so effortlessly simply return back to where they were when they started instead of driving the listener forward. Songs like “Walking On The Sun,” and “The Best Days,” have atypical drum patterns that closely mimic a real drum set, but that contrast isn’t enough to give them enough vigor for me to start moving.
On With You, Dirty South did something a lot of artists do when they start to get bigger: take their music in an entirely new direction in relation to the scene. If you were to listen to Dirty South’s SoundCloud posts from a year ago, you would discover that his music more or less sounded like everyone else’s. This is not at all an insult as that is the reason he and every other deejay making big house are well known. You have to be good a fitting in. However South took it upon himself to show everyone that he was above just fitting in. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well.