Pretension-free, mainstream-appealing drum’n’bass that’s always enjoyable.
Ian Roullier 2012-07-13
Having burst onto the drum'n'bass scene in 2009, Netsky was soon snapped up by Hospital Records and became a double Drum & Bass Arena award winner, for best newcomer and for his eponymous 2010 debut album. Two years later and Belgium’s Boris Daenen returns with the somewhat lazily titled 2.
Thankfully that lack of effort is not reflected in the 23-year-old’s music. Love Has Gone’s pitched-up soul sample introduces the album, before the track flies headlong into Netsky’s trademark brand of liquid drum’n’bass euphoria. The Whistle Song then sees jaunty organ joined by whoops, chatter and singing from Dynamite MC; and then the epically proportioned dubstep head-banger, Wanna Die for You, kicks in.
2 appeals instantly with its hook-laden charms but has enough depth to maintain that appeal over repeated listens. There’s little to surprise or challenge: vocals are catchy, melodies are memorable and the peaks and troughs are roughly where you’d expect or want them to be. But this is no criticism as it proves so enjoyable.
There’s still plenty of variety to be found, from the 80s videogame riff of Give & Take, to the house-dipped tones of Puppy, to the scattered piano, frosted vocals and hushed ambient atmospherics of No Beginning. The most noticeable departure from contemporary drum’n’bass is the proudly old-school album closer, Drawing Straws, with its rumbling, rolling bassline and “What we’re gonna do right here is go back” sample.
Fizzing and flowing throughout, 2 is commercial enough to shift units and danceable enough to shift bodies. But it is underpinned with enough creative flair and heavy, if not quite dark, edges so as not to fall face-first into drum’n’bass-lite territory. Yes there’s a pop edge, even a dash of light-hearted cheese at times; but while this album may well appeal to the masses, it hasn’t been cynically designed to function as mere chart fodder.
Netsky has produced a 15-track shot in the arm that may do little to please underground heads but is often unashamedly joyful and always pretension free. And, for that, 2 should be celebrated.