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DJ Fresh Nextlevelism Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Super-pop that could not be more 2012 if it came with a free gold medal.

Fraser McAlpine 2012

For his last album, Kryptonite, DJ Fresh had only five guest vocalists, none of whom had had hits in their own right. And that was fine, because neither had he. Two years later, thanks largely to the door-opening success of one of those songs – the effervescent Gold Dust – he can add a vocal to every song, and take his pick from an all-star cast: Professor Green, Dizzee Rascal, Rizzle Kicks, Rita Ora, Liam Bailey, The Fray, and so on.

Small wonder that Gold Dust has been given a brushdown, and re-vocalling from Ms Dynamite (the original was sung by Ce'Cile). It’s almost as if everything that happened before that song has been discounted, and this is his real debut. Hence the aspirational title, hence the star guests, and hence the almost total focus on that familiar, unsubtle Fresh brew of drum‘n’bass, dubstep and spiralling rave.

So, most of the songs have Pendulum tempos (i.e. sometimes they are at half-speed and sometimes not) and boast those Pinocchio-falling-down-the-stairs breakbeats. They are designed both for night-time club use and daytime radio play. You’ve probably heard one or two already – Louder, Hot Right Now, The Power: two numbers ones and a top-tenner – and the ones that do deviate from the template risk being overlooked, or skipped, in the general booming party atmosphere.

Turn It Up, for example, clearly wants to be LMFAO, which makes it a suspect sonic investment, despite a spirited soul vocal from Fleur. On the other hand, the grinding rock/dance hybrid of Forever More pits a maudlin, self-pitying Fray up against a typically hot and scathing Prof Green, the result being oddly pompous and spiteful, a regular punctured balloon of a song.

The real unexpected treat is Fire Over Water, on which Juliette Lewis croons like a half-awake Lana Del Rey over balmy verses, and then howls when the drop comes. It’s like being beaten up by an aromatherapist, only fun. 

But these are just fleeting deviations amid a storm of super-dynamic super-pop that could not be more 2012 if it came with a free gold medal.

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