Album Review: Skream – Outside the Box

To his mum, he’s pasty young Oliver Jones. To hipsters, he’s Skream, the dubstep musician/producer who doesn’t always play by the rules of the genre. (He works with rappers! And electro-pop revisionists!)

To regular punters, he’s the geezer who last year brilliantly remixed La Roux’s In for the Kill into a five-minute slow-burner with a tooth-loosening bass line and a final explosion like a giant party popper filled with needles of ice made from the sweat of a million insane ravers.

Skream - Outside The Box

He takes the same sudden-surge approach, albeit more modestly, on this, his second album, during the standout cut, I Love the Way. That’s followed by the frantic Listenin’ to the Records on My Wall, which could be the soundtrack to a chase between two sentient sports cars from Planet Atari.

Arcade-game farts and hiccups, tightly coiled bass grooves and woozy energy are the signatures of Out of the Box, which sometimes surges forth with barely controlled aggression, while at other times it takes a mellower approach.

But it can never be called laid back; it’s more a chill-out zone for people who sleep with one eye open: the chemically enhanced, the psychologically frazzled, professional killers and the like. It’s also ideal for Saturday night drinkers who want to relax but remain jittery enough to throw measured poses in a high-end boozer.

In short, the album could be called Pacman Swallowed Too Many of Those Yellow Pills and Now His Erratic Heartbeat is Deafening Him.

Where You Should Be is what Daft Punk’s mellow Something About Us would have sounded like if Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter had been born in south London, rather than France.

Elsewhere, La Roux repay a favour by appearing on Finally, which has vocalist Ellie Jackson, she of the delivery like a ‘90s ringtone, sounding sweeter than one might have thought possible.

There are pop moments, there are hip hop moments and there are moments of electronic hooliganism – and, while not every track is a charm, you have to admire Ollie Jones’s attempts to subvert and expand the genre of dubstep while remaining respectful to its sound.