Sub Focus - Torus (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
NICK Douwma, aka Sub Focus, made something of a splash with his eponymous debut album in 2009 which took the drum ‘n’ bass formula for success and embellished it with something that was more widely accessible.
He looks to try and repeat that trick with belated sophomore effort Torus and succeeds in delivering some great moments. But the album doesn’t always satisfy as a complete whole.
After a lengthy, borderline extravagant opening, the first track of note arrives in the form of the Alex Clare featuring Endorphins, which opens like a throbbing late-night floor-filler before then dropping in a slightly more serene vocal that declares “every breath I take is heavy with the thought of you”. It wears its Ibiza tendencies on its sleeve but works because of Clare’s vocal prowess. And he really puts his all into the chorus that declares: “I’ve been holding on for some kind of miracle.”
He almost repeats the trick with Alice Gold on Out The Blue, although the surrounding drum ‘n’ bass elements more often than not detract from the otherwise brilliant guest vocals (earthy and slightly haunted).
Twilight, on the other hand, works well on its under-stated delivery, with another distinct set of female vocals being offset against a snappy set of beats and electronics that never explode as they continually threaten to. It only makes the track more compelling.
Just as the album seems to have found its groove, however, Close rolls back the years to the house era and feels cheesy and underwhelming.
Bloc Party’s Kele helps boost proceedings again, though, with the euphoric Turn It Around (an obvious choice for a single given its sky-scraping electronic components), while Out of Reach maintains the upbeat energy with a slick slice of synth-pop featuring the seductive vocals of Jayelldee.
But Falling Down drags things back down with an unappealing slice of dubstep, before Turn Back Time cheekily rolls back the years to the early ’90s house style of Paul Hardcastle and Black Box Ride, complete with a pretty emphatic underground dance element.
The remainder of the album is similarly up and down. You Make It Better goes retro once more but can’t quite pull it off without sounding too dated, Tidal Wave hits you with another dose of decent synth-pop and Until The End brings things to a smart finale with a clever mix of retro and contemporary dance-pop (complete with the kind of cheesy/cool vibe attached to the Drive soundtrack).
There’s a lot to like about Torus, which eventually succeeds in spite of its flaws.
Download picks: Endorphins, Twilight, Turn It Around, Out of Reach, Turn Back Time