Dropped without any notice during their mammoth 24-hour Beatport DJ set last week, Skrillex & Diplo Present Jack Ü sees two kings of the EDM scene join forces for a surprise full-length LP which, unsurprisingly, isn’t exactly short on epic bass drops.
The fratboy-friendly supergroup occasionally show signs that they’ve broadened their horizons since they first shared a stage together at the Mad Decent Block Party back in 2013. “To Ü” is the kind of sweetly-sung warped R&B that special guests AlunaGeorge pioneered on their own under-rated debut album. Canadian newcomer Kai very nearly steals the show with an emotive turn on the ghostly alt-pop of “Mind,” and although Justin Bieber fails to convince as the wounded soul, the Drake-esque melancholy-turned-pumping house of “Where Are U Now” is another reminder of Diplo’s accomplished production skills.
Boasting a powerhouse performance from the deep house scene’s leading lady, Kiesza, “Take U There,” which features here in both its original form and a hyped-up Missy Elliott remix, also proves the duo are capable of infusing their more pulverising fare with a winning pop melody.
Sadly, the pair retreat back to their comfort zone of speaker-blasting wobbles, trap synths and boisterous beats a little too often, and despite charismatic turns from New Orleans bounce act Fly Boi Keno (“Beats Knockin’”), Georgia rapper 2 Chainz (“Febreze”) and Snails & Taranchyla (“Holla Out”), half of Skrillex & Diplo Present Jack Ü ends up amounting to an indistinguishable blur.
The dance music titans, therefore, may have been better off leaving Skrillex & Diplo Present Jack Ü as the E.P. it was initially intended to be. But although it undoubtedly runs out of ideas, it also provides just enough glimmers of inspiration to justify their dream team status.