For many fans in the dance music community, December 2nd represents the release date of the long awaited new deadmau5 album. While that’s all well and good, if you’ve been paying attention, you should know that today also marks the release of Adventure Club’s debut album Red // Blue. Deadmau5 is a hard act to follow to say the least, but luckily for the Canadian duo, they have the goods to back it up with their latest release. Featuring a stunning twelve track strong selection of boundary pushing electronic music, Red // Blue ranks as one of the more notable efforts of 2016, just in time for the end of the year lists.
Ahead of Red // Blue’s release, Adventure Club offered up tastes of the album with lead single “Dreams” featuring ELEA, and “Firestorm” with Sara Diamond. Both songs featured dreamy dance music productions married with airy pop hooks, making for an infectious formula that pointed towards an impressive first full-length outing for the duo. As it turns out, both singles are strong indications of what we get with the new album, the tracklist of which is filled with these types of sublime soundscapes, as well as some harder edged material that conjures up nostalgia for the glory days of dubstep.
Adventure Club’s album signifies this split in sonic preference as spelled out by the title: red for the higher energy tracks, and blue for the more serene moments. Red // Blue’s duality is easily picked up on listening through the album, which bounces back between wobble dominated dubstep workouts and drifting future pop efforts. This dynamic serves the collection of song’s well, keeping the listener from losing interest while covering plenty of musical territory.
On the more aggressive end of the spectrum are cuts like opener “Without You,” “Reaction,” and “Limitless” with Delaney Jane. The sound design is an enticing blend of new and old, recalling the days of dubstep circa 2012 when growls and wubs were still all the rage, yet refined with a modern touch. The album’s thumping moments keep it from feeling too lethargic and break up the calmer tunes nicely, giving listeners a little bit of everything along the way.
“Reaction” leads with some in your face vocals courtesy of Leah Culver, as Adventure Club fill the production with screeching dubstep rhythms set against four on the floor rhythms. “Limitless,” the Delaney Jane featuring ode to living life to the fullest is another upbeat number with growling riffs and punchy beats. Meanwhile, the Zak Waters led “Fade” explodes into a cacophony of squelchy bass, stuttering synth chords and half time drum patterns, serving as another indulgent dubstep outing with a future bass twist. That Adventure Club choose to utilize what might be viewed as dated sounds should be viewed as a pro and not a con, and will be appreciated by bass music fans who have stuck with the genre.
Contrasting the bass laden tracks on Red // Blue are softer moments that serve as the album’s secret to success. Electronic dance music has done a lot of growing up over the last few years and it’s nice to see more attention being paid to the emotional impact of sound. “Forever” is a prime example of this type of tune, utilizing an organic backdrop with echoed string plucks and drifting ambience. Picking up speed in the drops, minimal drum patterns carve out a solid beat as Ben Stevenson’s smooth vocals echo off into the distance.
“Breathe” featuring Sondar is another somber outing with some heartbreaking pop hooks that compliment the downtempo vibe of the music perfectly. The yearning timbre of ELEA’s vocals on “Dreams” have a sorrowful inflection to them, layered over pensive future bass rhythms to intoxicating effect. The album comes to a close with a similarly low key effort with “Goodnight,” a fitting farewell to Red // Blue. A haunting chord progression underscores some resigned vocal hooks, leaving the listener with a pleasing sense of euphoria as the song fades to silence.
While the concept of Red // Blue illustrates extremes, that’s not to say there isn’t a healthy mixing of the two opposing vibes on a number of tracks. “Crash 2.0” is an energetic house cut that maintains a melodic, vocal driven sound in spite of its driving rhythms, while “Firestorm” delivers groovy bass stabs over steady beats while a chorus of voices croons in the background.
As a complete work, Red // Blue embodies the modern dance record. It offers up plenty of firepower to satisfy listeners on the dancefloor, while still possessing a wide range of sonic diversity and forward thinking attitude to make it feel like a complete package. It can often be difficult to justify a dance act putting out a full length album, but Adventure Club are able to traverse the challenge of crafting a cohesive record with ease. In the age of MP3s and streaming, it’s rare that we sit back and play an album from start to finish, but Red // Blue is perfectly suited for this type of listening experience.
Adventure Club definitely put their all into their inaugural LP and the work paid off. We’ve already seen a lot of great albums arrive in 2016, like Flume’s Skin, Zeds Dead’s Northern Lights and ZHU’s Generationwhy, and Red // Blue serves as a worthy follow up on those boundary pushing outings to bring the year to an end. With more than its fair share of excellent productions and a solid musical identity that runs through the songs, Adventure Club’s debut record is a memorable effort that points to a bright future for the duo.
Adventure Club offer up a dazzling array of new soundscapes on their debut album Red // Blue. The Canadian duo craft a strong melodic underpinning throughout the entire album, lending a tunefulness to even its most kinetic offerings. Taking the best of both worlds, Adventure Club dish up overdriven dance music and ethereal electronic pop while solidifying a cohesive identity across Red // Blue's twelve tracks.