It’s a big year for American DJ Dillon Francis. He’s being hailed as one of the hottest up-and-coming acts in the industry, and boasts collabs with impressive names including Martin Garrix and The Presets. His single Get Low was a huge hit in Europe earlier this year, so it’s about time he release his debut studio album. The eagerly anticipated Money Sucks, Friends Rule is everything you’d expect – plus a few surprises too. Over a modest 12-track listing, Francis presents a range of genres including pop, electro, downtempo and of course, his signature moombahton.
Francis has always been known as a funny dude, being one half of the crazy/quirky/weird duo Meowski666. He carries these satirical elements into a few tracks on this album – namely, the opener All That. The track kicks off with a pinched-nose voiceover: ‘Attention ladies and gentlemen…I have all the hoes on my pelvis, cause I look like Black Elvis.’ Twista and The Rejectz provide some extremely fast spitting on their behalf; the whole track is psychedelic, high energy and reflects the hard party vibe Francis has going on. Get Low, on the other hand, has quite a different feel to it. It’s gradual build up is an intense and agonising wait, but the bass drop isn’t quite what you’d expect. It’s an exotic beat – kind of like Arabian Nights, characterised with the occasional tongue rolling and ‘YALLA HABIBI!’
Then we have Set Me Free, the big collab featuring Martin Garrix. The expectations for this track are quite high, seeing that it features one of the most sought after DJs on the planet right now. The track draws heavily from deep house and moombahton influences, with staccato synths, high pitched wails and a very drawn-out lead to the drop. There’s a few violins chucked in there for good measure, although they don’t last long. But it’s overall a bit disappointing; the melody is too psychedelic to be memorable – it’s not something you can even hum along to, let alone jump enthusiastically to at a music festival.
But not everything is a hit and miss. A bit surprisingly, there’s pop influences laced into EDM creating a sound we’re more familiar with. When We Were Young is the radio friendly hit featuring Sultan + Ned Shepard, and it’s got a more relaxed vibe to it. The song reminisces on the Glory Days of being wild and free; with it’s euphoric synths and pulsing beats, it makes for the perfect driving song. Drunk All The Time and We Are Impossible share a similar sort of downtempo rhythm, but still upbeat enough to have our heads nodding to the pulse. The real gem though, is the quirky Love In the Middle of a Firefight. Featuring vocals from Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie, you can tell that it’s going to be a smashing collaboration. There’s a bit of Urie’s rock influences thrown in there, with the gungy guitar intro and all. But it veers into something more feel-good, with it’s catchy woah’s and na-na-na’s. Urie’s vocals and controlled and delivered with ease, and his trademark belt lifts the track into a state of elation. If anything, this track is completely unexpected from a big EDM musician – we have no bass drop, no hard beats, or even anything that’ll get us rowdy, for that matter. But it’s not like Francis doesn’t deliver any of that . Fans of his original work will be pleased with tracks like No Butter and I Can’t Take It – it’s just him, with his pulsing basslines and signature moombahton, just having a good time.
Francis shows off his musical versatility in his debut full-length. He pulls it off surprisingly well – there’s something in there for everybody, whether you’re a fan or not. Just don’t call him a sell-out. In his own words: ‘I strategically did it this way so I can have the vocal songs on the radio… then also have the songs that are for my true fanbase that has been listening to me since I started making moombahton.’ Well said, Dillon Francis.