Album of the Year

Porter Robinson: Worlds

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Porter Robinson kind of came out of nowhere for me. If you had asked me who he was before his debut full-length album, Worlds, came out, I would’ve said, “Oh he’s some kid who makes electronic music. I haven’t really listened to his stuff, but he’s probably alright.”

It turns out he’s more than just “alright.”

For Worlds, Robinson ditches some of his older more mainstream try-hard, four-on-the-floor, club-banging beats. He tones it down and brings in a sweeping melancholic softness to his groovy songs. He is to electronic music what Ellie Goulding is to pop music.

Worlds sounds both new and nostalgic at the same time, which isn’t easy to pull off. “Sad Machine,” for example, pulls me in with a robot singing voice that sounds eerily similar to GLaDoS from Valve’s Portal games. “Fresh Static Snow,” which also features a robotic singer, reminded me of the film Drive immediately. So much so, that I crafted a music video from it with recut scenes from the movie.

Robinson drafted a fine crew of non-robot singers, too, including Amy Milan, Breanne Duren, Lemaitre and Urban Cone. Although they’re not household names by any means, they champion their respective tracks.

Here and there, the album gets a little pretentious for its own good, especially in the later tracks. In “Fellow Feeling” it ditches singing for a woman reading a monolgue-esque story in the middle of the song. It’s not that appealing to me, but the track does open up later to a more friendly, standard beat that no doubt gets crowds jumping during shows. More impressively, it weaves in orchestral runs from the opening of the track under electronically-produced beats toward the end without missing a mark.

Porter Robinson has been rotating regularly in my car stereo for nearly a year, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. His music is smarter than his age, which means he’ll likely only get better as he continues to mature. And this album has an artist’s staple rather than being entirely built on easy listening, radio-friendly tunes. Robinson isn’t afraid to take risks and use abstraction to his advantage.

Previous Award: Music Runner Up

Next Award: Best DLC Award

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