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SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land | Album Review

SBTRKT is back with a new album that is once again filled with guest features, including the likes of Ezra Koenig, Warpaint, and A$AP Ferg. Check out what we thought of his sophomore effort right here!

Source: Official Album Artwork

UK-based masked producer SBTRKT has returned for the release of the follow-up to his self titled debut album. An album that showcased SBTRKT as one of the more worthwhile names to be coming out of the electronic world today. SBTRKT often blends sub-genres of electronic music like 2-step and dubstep together with tribal influences, and brilliant guest features to create brilliantly wonky music. Wonder Where We Land is similar to this in that he’s still got his signature style of soulful music, but with a whole new variety of faces to his guest-list including the likes of Warpaint, Ezra Koenig, A$AP Ferg and Raury. SBTRKT has decided to bring a lot of familiar faces to the table on this album as well, with the likes of Sampha, and Jessie Ware returning once more.

On his last album, the guest spots were one of the reasons as to what made it so fantastic. He utilised their best abilities as artists and fused them brilliantly with his own sonic stamp. Unfortunately on this album there are a lot of very questionable guest spots on here, particularly the song Look Away’, which features Caroline Polacheck singing in a way that is just unpleasant when the vocals are paired with these obnoxious manipulations. The song ‘Higher’, seed Raury spitting a verse much better than anything on his recent solo album, with his flow being a lot more on point and a topic personal to him. Sadly, this song still manages to sound bland though due to him being uncharacteristic in delivery, the hook being dull and generally not having any chemistry with SBTRKT.

Then we have one of the biggest problems, which is the fact that Sampha appears on five songs again on Wonder Where We Land, only this time SBTRKT seems to have lost a bit of the chemistry with him. Although there are plenty of great melodies floating around in these tracks, it’s never a good sign when it feels like Sampha is there to fill in space – whereas other times he has got an entire little piano ballad to himself, so SBTRKT’s presence isn’t even felt. These Sampha tracks aren’t bad per say, but they really do break up any form of coherency on the album, especially considering the sheer amount of tracks he features on, and the bizarre nature of some of the tracks he’s not on.
This is evident on songs like New Dorp. New York’ with Ezra Kroenig, which sticks out like a sore thumb when it’s put next to these other vocalists, and it’s not even a bad track when taken on its own. What does make it stick out is that it has this big bouncy bass line, rolling drum beats, and the African influences Ezra Koenig brings to the composition, as well as his witty lyricism.

This album isn’t all bad though. It has Jessie Ware delivering a vocal performance that is more passionate than a lot of her own solo material and the beat behind her is brilliantly textured with some lush broken up piano pieces. SBTRKT also manages to bring hip-hop into his arsenal quite well on this album, like on the track Voices In My Head’ with A$AP Ferg and Warpaint, where SBTRKT decides to go jazz-happy on the percussion side of things, whilst bringing out one of A$AP Ferg’s more convincing and personal pieces of lyricism.

Although a lot of the songs on Wonder Where We Land are hit or miss due to the strange guest vocals and the way he decided to deal with them, in SBTRKT’s defense, it is worth taking note that the production is actually extremely stellar on this album most of the time. Even though this album feels somewhat like a mixtape due to the fact that it’s so unbelievably broken up, it always sounds distinctively SBTRKT. He does have a very distinct way of dealing with his instrumentals especially when it comes to giving off his tribal influences – particularly with the percussion. It’s just a shame that Wonder Where We Land feels like a failed experiment more than another piece of actual work from SBTRKT.

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