When bands or artists write music pretty much exclusively to be played on club dancefloors it can be an awkward task for them to make a solid piece of work that can carry it’s weight outside of that setting. Sub Focus, the musical project of drum & bass producer Nick Douwma, may not be an artist you would recognise instantly by name or song name but a couple of tunes played down your lugholes would probably bring back memories (good or bad) of nights out and strobe lighting. Indeed the 2010 self titled debut was a collection of well crafted for all sorts of nightlife and the new sophomore effort Torus follows a similar path.
Of course, as to be expected, the album doesn’t pull any punches. Album opener and title track Torus starts fairly subtly but quickly picks up the pace and builds momentum to burst into a downright stomper that dubstep fans will lap up in moments. The explosive nature of the album is rather relentless with a decent portion of the album really pushing the boat out with 4-to-the-floor tracks that will go down a treat with a few shots and a decent laser show. You Make It Better carries the kind of beat you can imagine your best friend throwing drunk dance moves to, whilst single Falling Down will no doubt be the song to send all the dubstep lovers into a total frenzy.
To be honest though its the various collaborations and guest appearances that prove to be the more interesting part of the album. Endorphins features singer-songwriter and fellow dancefloor filler Alex Clare, making an enjoyable blend of soulful vocals with trancey beats and synths. Elsewhere Bloc Party singer Kele Okereke (who also performs electro/house under the name Kele) lends his signature whine to massive drum & bass single Turn It Around which has already been proving to be a recent favourite in DJ sets across the UK. Electropop duo Alpines’ contribution on Tidal Wave and pop rock singer Alice Gold’s vocals on Out The Blue are two other notable tracks but you cant help but feel the album suffers a lot from taking such a number of musical U-turns. It tends to feel like a compilation of danceable tracks rather than a solid work of art.
After a year of successful and critically acclaimed albums with plenty of guests (e.g. Disclosure, Rudimental, Daft Punk) its not as if Torus is an oddity of an album, its just a bit of a mish-mash in comparison. Indeed nine of the thirteen tracks on the album feature guest vocalists and writers that doesn’t really leave you with a clear idea of what the album or, in fact, Sub Focus as an artist sounds like. Its a decent collection of songs and no doubt they will go down well in a club format, it just doesn’t cut the mustard in any other setting. If theres one thing for certain though, it’ll provide a sturdy soundtrack to a night of booze, bars and banter which – after all – was probably the intention.
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