Sound — 9
Before the EDM bashing begins, let us take a moment to realize that out of most mainstream artist in EDM (David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, etc.), artist like Avicii, Deadmau5, Porter Robinson, and even Skrillex, stand out on their own and have the degree to be creative with their style. Zedd, however, is a class of his own.
Signed to Interscope records, Anton Zaslavski (Zedd) is a classically trained pianist and drummer (he played drums in a metal band called Dioramic), known for being a little bit of a goof, and he has some of the best songwriting skills on the current scene of electro house right now. Forget Martin Garrix. Zedd's songs, described below, have huge potential to be hits, singles or not.
1. "Hourglass" - Starting with a haunting clock sound and piano, LIZ's vocals come in with a snare roll beat to deliver a soft, beautiful opening, leading to the climatic, danceable chorus. A great intro. And it all lead up to...
2. "Shave It Up" - Zedd's most well known song, second to the album title track, starts all the way near the end of "Hourglass" and brings the beat with it. The song is a short moment, but a great one. The hook, of course, just may get you believing in this guy, if you can hear the powerful harmonies with it.
3. "Spectrum" - Featuring the soaring vocals of Matthew Koma, this song is a single to remember, even if it didn't get the popularity it deserved. Synth chords and complextro glitch-outs keep this song interesting. One of my favorites.
4. "Lost at Sea" - Featuring Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, this song really has nothing that special, but nevertheless, it's still good. Ryan's vocals sound nice over the chords and minimal house beat, but it's the actual music to it, that makes me like it. Still give props to Ryan, though.
5. "Clarity" - Featuring British songwriter Foxes, this song is no pushover... It's what got Zedd popularity in the first place. The music is ethereal but powerful, the vocals scream emotion, and the background choir make it even better. Probably one of the best pop songs in years, in my opinion.
6. "Codec" - Definitely not a filler song. Glitched vocals and crazy leads keep this song going. It's one of the more weird songs on the album, structure wise. Again, another song seeps in at the last second...
7. "Stache" - A floor filler at it's finest, without seeming generic. Strange in structure, crazy in sounds, and fun in nature, this has to be my favorite of the instrumentals. Hear it for yourself.
8. "Fall Into the Sky" - my least favorite song. Ellie Goulding is the highlight hear, her harmonies and voice keeping the song strong. Lucky Date's additional production maybe the reason this song occasionally falls flat, but the high-pitched energy is bearable. It's the weakest, but it's not that bad.
9. "Follow You Down" - Arps and plucks come across Heather Bright's vocals like barbecue sauce and ribs - sweet and tender. An amazing song, even without Heather's vocals, but I prefer them with her echoed voice. Again, another song lead up...
10. "Epos" - The final song. After a syncopated synth lead, it builds up to the main drop... and it hits hard like a ton of bricks. The bright chord harmonies cap off the album successfully, with the intro to Hourglass at the end making the album come full circle.
Lyrics — 10
Every vocalist has a degree of talent to the six songs with their voices. LIZ feels perfect on Hourglass, Matthew Koma hits hard on "Spectrum," and Ryan Tedder plays it cool on "Lost at Sea." Foxes brings a captivating performance to "Clarity," and Ellie Goulding keeps "Fall Into the Sky" from falling apart, no pun intended. And Heather Bright gives it her all for the last vocal track, "Follow You Down." Zedd did a good job finding the vocalist here, instead of getting mainstream stars like David Guetta get to sing.
Overall Impression — 10
Compared to other releases by EDM artist these days, Zedd's "Clarity" may still stand the test of time, even though it's been a year and a half since it's release. This is an ALBUM, not a collection of songs. Listen to it from beginning to end, and maybe the cynics here can change their minds about EDM... Just maybe.
Highlights - awesome sound selection and production, great flow, and superb choice of vocals. Best songs are, in my opinion, "Spectrum," "Clarity," "Stache," and "Follow You Down."
Lows - "Fall Into the Sky" falls a bit flat with the sound choice.
Overall - Amazing album from start to finish. One of my favorite releases. A must-buy.