I’m sure that by now, everyone has heard Skillex’s hit “Weekends!!!!” but it wasn’t until hearing Zedd’s remix that I actually liked it. Since then, the young German producer has been on my radar. Needless to say, when Zedd’s first full-length LP, Clarity came out on October 2nd, I eagerly grabbed the album to have a listen.
The album features ten mid-length tracks, one of them being this summer’s anthem “Spectrum.” They all have Zedd’s massive, heart-pounding, signature sound in one way or another, yet all have a different unique signature. The stands outs on Zedd’s debut include: “Spectrum,” a refreshed “Shave It Up”, “Lost At Sea” featuring One Republic’s Ryan Tedder on vocals, “Follow You Down (ft. Bright Lights),” and of course the highly anticipated Ellie Goulding and Lucky Date collaboration “Fall Into The Sky.”
“Hourglass” starts the album off with a bang. As a clock ticks, anticipation builds, and then we are given the anthemesque vocals. While Zedd usually leads with his signature synths, he lets the vocals and bass take us away on this one. “Hourglass” progresses right into “Shave It Up”, a track that premiered last year, and has been remixed by house greats such as Kaskade. Armed with minimal vocals, improved production quality, and a flurry of string at the end, Zedd gives a more crisp sound to the whole song.
“Spectrum’s” beautifully crafted instrumental and vocal introduction doesn’t take long to morph into a bass-throbbing, electro storm of music. While we often get the extended mix on an LP, Zedd gives us a shorter, yet still pungent. The added vocals over the climaxes and breakdowns, which are absent in the original mix, provides a mass appeal that the extended tends to lack. For more on Spectrum see our original post.
Featuring the smooth vocals of Ryan Tedder (who provided the vocals on Ingrosso’s and Alesso’s Anthem Calling (Loosing My Mind), “Lost At Sea” beckoning the listener to come get lost at sea with him, over a more progressive house melody. In sharp contrast to the Zedd we know and love, “Lost At Sea” shows his versatility.
The title-track “Clarity” delivers epically progressive vocals that put just about every one of this summer’s anthems to shame. Keeping up with “Spectrum” and “Lost At Sea,” Zedd explores his more progressive side. The track starts off with the calming vocals from Foxes before jumping right into a Swedish flavored build. Tossing some chants into the mix, “Clarity” has everything it needs to become this falls club anthem.
Instrumentals tend to get lost in the flurry of top ten tracks carrying vocals from the like of Wynter Gordon, Eva Simmons, and Sofi, but don’t let that stear your away from two of the best tracks on the album, “Codec” and “Stache.” Getting back to hard, electro house, Zedd comes in heavy with “Codec”. A thumping kick introduce us to a light melody that is sure to drive concert goers nuts as Zedd takes the country by storm with Porter Robinson.
On “Stache,” an upbeat melody drives the dirty dutch synths to climax. This is just one of those tracks that is hard not to get lost in; its repetitiveness absorbs you until about a minute and a half into the track when Zedd completely changes it up. Brining the two dramatically different segments together creates the kind of track that people will talk about for years to come.
Zedd teemed up with Oakland native, Lucky Date, to deliver “Fall Into The Sky,” which also features the hypnotic voice of Ellie Goulding (“Lights”). With more of a glitchy melody than the rest of the album, we are given the chance to really get our groove on. And Ellie’s haunting vocals bring me right back to Srillex’s “Summit.”
Because five vocal collaborations on a ten track album wouldn’t be enough, Zedd dropped “Follow You Down” into the mix. It has the same feeling as “Lost At Sea”, with female vocals and a progressive house/electro melody, yet it is also reminiscent of deadmau5′s brand of progressive house. Keeping up with the Zimmermanesque synths “Epos” closes out the album with a mellowed out version of his unique brand of electro house. Throw in a bit more of a shuffle and crisp snare and you would think you were listing to the Mou5 himself. Fear not though, towards the end of the track we get the synths that have shot Zedd to the top of the charts.
Zedd has come a long way from remixing Skrillex and SMH songs, and has really found his own brand of electro house that works so well for him. Although “Clarity” is his first full-length, it definitely will not be his last!
In Collaboration with Austin Maier.