by Samuel Hernandez
Emotions don’t update along with your new iOS or gadget. What was true in the 1940s continues to be a driving force — there is pain and love in the world, and they often intermingle to produce confusion, melancholy, happiness, and regret. Crooners and true singers have a difficult task ahead of them: how do you reinvent what’s already been done perfectly by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone without being derivative or resorting to the laziness of over production? What if Billie Holiday had access to looping pedals and the software of today?
On their Lockjaw EP, Flume and Chet Faker find a way to update your emotions, bringing creativity to vocals verging on the tearful. Working backward through the EP because the title of the last song is the eye catching “This Song Is Not About A Girl”—meaning it most certainly is — think Duck Sauce and the promise of Barbara Streisand before realizing nothing else about Duck Sauce sounds like Barbara Streisand. It’s also a creative use of the hi-hat sound, seconds away from a complete loop, that evokes the driving through the street vibe, a consistent ride except when you stop at lights. The city scape plays a role here like the nonexistent female. The vocals are melancholy —“I’m a ghost open for bidding way” — and the energy is high. There’s a subtextual tension throughout the EP resolved by the disparate elements, the vocals paired with electronica.
“Drop the Game” continues the theme and provides the imagery. The song is break dancing being passed off as ballet, the elements are all break dance, but somehow the audience has been convinced that a recital is taking place in front of them. “Hush, I said there is more to life than rush,” the singer implores, asking that time be spent together, getting to a place of intimacy. When the vocals climax, they’re complimented by throbbing bass and harmonized sing-alongs and whistles.
“What About Us” completes the picture by bringing in the EDM elements of electronic throbbing and adding in the recital piano — “I can see you running out/What about us/I don’t want to catch you now.” The tension escalates, the mood shifts. In three songs Flume & Chet Faker have given too much to unpack, requiring multiple listens, and shallow gasps for air to catch your breath to take it all in. The more you listen the more the originality sinks in. Yes, there is the comparison to Duck Sauce earlier because of the up tempo married to the downbeat, and the nod to Matthew Dear, but what this EP does is compel the listener deeper into the hole by reinventing the delivery of emotion, like teaching you a new way to cry. The emotions are the same. “What About Us” is a lament, a cry, a seeking for the missing pieces that caused things to fall apart, but the artist is bringing you into a landscape you have only been able to grasp at, and showing you the complete picture.