After what seems like forever, Flume (Harley Streten) has finally returned with his fourth album. Those who have been long-standing fans may consider this album an amalgamation of Flume's career so far. Palaces has a few commercial, radio-ready hits that hark back to the success of his second album Skin, however, it is on the solo, more experimental tracks where things get exciting! Fans will recall the direction Flume took on his 2019 experimental mixtape Hi This is Flume.
Although the tracklist is somewhat disjointed, there are more than enough fantastic tracks on the album for fans to cherrypick a few favourites. If Skin era Flume is your style, the collaborative track "Say Nothing" with MAY-A is a surefire standout. Mixing his experimental synths with the burgeoning hyperpop trend on tracks like "Highest Building" and "ESCAPE", Flume launches us into the future of pop.
On an album inspired by the atmosphere of his home in rural New South Wales, "Sirens", featuring Caroline Polacheck's soaring vocals over signature Flume glitchy synths, is the perfect bridge between the commercial and experimental, and perhaps would've better fit higher up the tracklist. Nonetheless, this track is quintessential Flume.
Now for the highlights, where the young artist's influences and production chops really shine. After working with icons of the genre such as SOPHIE, it is easy to hear their impact, especially on the solo tracks on Palaces, where little tidbits of catchy yet futuristic and entirely unexpected earworms can be found dotted throughout the album. "Get U", with its bone shaking bass experience, juxtaposed with the warped and wistful "Jasper's Song", deliver us something truly surprising and wonderful at the midpoint of the tracklist. Later followed up with "Love Light" and "Go", which have a more fluid style reminiscent of early Flume, circa Flume (2012) era for those super fans.
The album closes out with title track "Palaces" featuring Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz). Littered with field recordings of outback birds from Australia, the track gives you a sense of release, a feeling of post-adventure clarity, an epiphany... It is safe to say Flume has delivered an album that has something for everyone that shows off his capabilities without tooting his own horn too much.