Parisian electronic musician DJ Snake’s debut album Encore serves as his attempt to establish himself as a household name and a mainstream pop powerhouse with an album that both stays true to his origins and aims for wide-ranging crossover, both in the realms of pop and hip-hop. There is a very wide disparity in genres on the project, all executed to different levels of success, but all very solid for a debut effort.
Snake is at his very best staying in the lane he was introduced to us in with “Turn Down For What” – percussion-heavy, extremely innovative hardstyle EDM bangers. While it is typical for many popular EDM artists to construct a song that is essentially a shorter song repeated twice or three times (Snake himself is guilty of this a few times on Encore), Snake tends to vary his material and create an interesting and fun listening experience throughout, surprising the listener with new sounds as he continues to increase the energy of the track as it progresses. “Pigalle”, “Ocho Cinco” and especially “Propaganda” are great examples of the place that every electronic music producer should strive to be right now.
“Propaganda” in particular might be one of my favourite tracks of the year. This is the closest Snake comes to recapturing the “Turn Down For What” magic. The skittering production and massive dubstep synths make this the most danceable and fun track on the whole project. I have probably played this song more times between an album release and a post than any other since this blog’s inception.
If Snake really insisted on crossing over anywhere, it should be the trap scene. He experiments with the sound primarily on two tracks in the album’s middle section, both of which deliver. These sound like they could be some of Metro Boomin or Southside’s biggest hits of the year. Snake shows that he has an ear for melodies, which for some reason he only applies to songs featuring niche artists like Young Thug and Travis Scott, instead of say, Justin Bieber. “The Half” is supplied by a fantastic dance breakdown to accompany Jeremih and Thug’s catchy vocals effortlessly riding the beat, whereas “Oh Me Oh My” is a through-and-through Southern trap banger with Scott and Migos offering up quotables for days. “I JUST SHUT THE CLUB DOWN I AIN’T EVEN TRY!”
For an album with such great highs, sometimes things fall apart. The beginning of the album is quite weak and had me worried for what the rest would bring. I would have expected Snake and Skrillex’s styles to mesh together very well, but “Sahara” does not work at all. The build-up and drop sound like they come from two entirely different songs and do not cohesively mesh together. Opening single “Middle” is not bad as far as mainstream electronic singles go, but it is a far cry from Snake’s more creative works. “Turn Down For What” is one of the greatest EDM songs ever composed because of its frantic and unpredictable nature, and “Middle” — and “Sober”, co-written by uninspiring pop producer of the moment Ricky Reed and inconsistent DJ of the moment Flume — are comparatively extremely bland.
Bieber-featuring “Let Me Love You” falls slightly flat energy-wise as well, especially placed within this dynamic and uptempo album. I think Snake may need better personnel, seeing as his single choices and high-profile feature opportunities (Skrillex, Bieber) pale in comparison to his better works.
The album continues to shift direction closer to its conclusion, and for the better. Snake’s placement of two exceptional tracks like “Future, Pt. 2” (Where is Part 1?!) and “Here Comes The Night” at the album’s tail end shows confidence in the strength of the project as a whole. These tracks contain the same creativity behind Snake’s dance sections, but with less of a punishing beat. While it may be difficult for the general public to ignore the album’s star power, it should ultimately be these tracks that serve as the sweet spot, finding success filling dance floors nationwide. Bipolar Sunshine’s vocals are chopped up to sound like a scat solo on the climax of “Future” to maximum euphoric potential.
Snake has the potential in spades. It seems like he is having difficulty choosing a concrete direction to go with his music at the moment, but hopefully whichever way he ultimately ventures he is able to imbue to innovation and audible joy of creation possessed by “Turn Down For What”, “Propaganda”, “Future, Pt. 2” and others. The world of EDM may verge on stale and repetitive the quickest, and Snake’s breath of fresh air is welcomed with open arms.
Favourite Tracks: Propaganda, Future Pt. 2, Pigalle, Ocho Cinco, Oh Me Oh My
Least Favourite Track: Sahara