Since forming their collaborative project Jack Ü in September 2013, prolific EDM producers Skrillex and Diplo have been teasing audiences with morsels of new music. After releasing their first full-length single a year after the duo’s inception, Jack Ü have finally dropped their debut album out of the blue. The aptly titled Skrillex and Diplo present Jack Ü is a sweaty, body-moving, effort that at times takes Skrillex back to the intensity and frenzy of his Bangarang roots and at others indulges in Diplo’s capacity for seamless pop production that has seen him work with artists from Beyoncé and Madonna, to Usher.
The mellow mood of the opening, established by what sounds like a classic conversation between inebriated mates, is quickly shattered by the whiplash claps and frenetic tempo of Beats Knocking. The unrelenting bounce, supporting Fly Boi Keno’s aggressive vocal delivery, leads into us to the pair’s first official single, Take Ü There. The track features the unique, powerhouse voice of Canadian musician Kiesza, accompanied by an immediately recognisable Skrillex dub riff, and animated percussion paired well with sparse bass drops. The standout track appears again at the end of the album as a playful and energised Missy Elliott remix, revelling in classic throaty rhyming, as well as smooth crooning from the female hip-hop superpower.
The delicate vocals of Alana Francis (AlunaGeorge) on To Ü work well against more aggressive percussion and bass, as well as a horn-driven riff that flags the inevitable drop. The surprisingly melodic track offers the opportunity to recover from the perfect absurdity of the 2 Chainz collaboration, Febreze, in which the rapper asserts: “I’m the shit / I should have Febreze on me”, before launching into the dancehall anthem Jungle Bae. The Trinidadian ragga artist, Bunji Garlin, lends his distinct soca vocals to this track to keep your body moving and your hands up throughout the explosive festival song.
Rounding out the album is the more downtempo production, Where Are Ü Now, featuring everybody’s favourite pop prince/pariah Justin Bieber. Bieber’s honeyed vocals are juxtaposed over a slightly discordant synth motif, embodying the marriage of Skrillex and Diplo’s individual talents (pop intelligence, addictive dance riffs and head-heavy production) under the moniker Jack Ü.
While each individual song has its merits and points of interest, such as unexpected beautiful melodies, or ludicrously comical lyrics, upon listening to the album as a whole two formulas become quite obvious: each track is either reminiscent of the immediate sonic onslaught of Beats Knocking, or in the undulating, building Where Are Ü Now camp. Whether it’s frenetic assault from start to finish, or sugary, slow building tracks that culminate in colossal drops, however, there’s no doubt Jack Ü’s debut will keep you moving in one way or another.