Dillon Francis wasted no time announcing that he would be working on an EP following the release of his debut full-length album, Money Sucks, Friends Rule. As well as the effort may have been received by much of his ever-growing fanbase, it didn’t resonate as well with diehard fans who yearn for the Francis of yesteryear. Therefore, as soon as he revealed that the EP would revisit his moombahton roots, the EDM world waited with baited breath.
The better part of a year later, Francis has released This Mixtape is Fire, a seven-song collection of tracks which largely showcase the markedly lower tempo and primal production elements characteristic of his earlier material. In addition, the list of collaborators alone has been enough to turn heads – big names like Kygo, Skrillex, Bro Safari and Calvin Harris teamed up with Francis on tracks, making for an eclectic array of stylistic influences. While the featured artists on the album may have diluted its essence to some degree, overall it makes for a strong return to moombahton for Francis while still adding something new to his discography.
This Mixtape is Fire opens with “Bruk Bruk (I Need Your Lovin),” a tribal-sounding track sitting right around 110 BPM with an infectiously danceable drop that Francis allowed to trickle out a couple months before the EP’s release. Next up is his esteemed Calvin Harris collaboration, “What’s Your Name.” The track raised a few eyebrows when Francis debuted it at Go HARD Toronto a few months ago for having little discernible influence from Harris, but for the diehard Dillon fans the song went down well.
Up next is Francis’ Skrillex collaboration, “Bun Up The Dance.” This track solidifies what anybody could have already guessed: If you put Dillon Francis and Skrillex in a studio together you’re gonna wind up with good music. “Bun Up The Dance” is silly in all the ways you might expect from the two artists yet distinctly dynamic in its arrangement and production values.
Bro Safari teamed up with Francis on the following song, “Pull It,” which matches the pace of the tracks preceding it without sounding entirely interchangeable. A breakdown around halfway through pairs the trumpeting synth work with a trappy syncopation, switching up the flow of the rhythm in a way that keeps the listener from getting distracted.
It’s not too big of a surprise that Francis’ Kygo collaboration would make for the most dramatic departure from moombahton on the EP, but it unfortunately makes for the weakest track on the effort. Poppy verses by James Hearsey are met with feel-good sound design elements which build up to what sounds more like watered-down future bass than anything – it’s as if Francis and Kygo’s styles were so different from one another that the only place they could meet in the middle didn’t sound like music that either of them would make otherwise.
In contrast, while “Lies” doesn’t sound very moombahton, it sounds very Chromeo – which is always welcome. The “livetronica” outfit makes for one of the more identifiable cameos on the effort, as short and sweet as it may have been.
The seventh and final track is Party Favor’s remix of Francis’ 2014 song “I Can’t Take It.” This version begins with a comedic sound bite of Francis acting out his DJ Hanzel persona before giving the original the trap treatment.
This Mixtape is Fire largely succeeds in paying homage to Dillon Francis‘ moombahton roots while still contributing plenty to the conversation that hasn’t already been said. The EP’s misses are few, and the overwhelming majority of hits are sure to see their fair share of remixes, edits and mashups as festival season draws to a close.
Dillon Francis said he would release a moombahton EP, and he did it. With scarce disappointments, This Mixtape is Fire succeeded in revisiting the style that helped Francis achieve international fame without simply regurgitating his old material.