By Alec Henninger
It doesn’t take much to think of a couple random genres, smack them together, and call yourself original. “Hey look guys I just invented LATIN SOUL POLKA METAL – I call it PEASANTCORE!!!” (see: Attack Attack! and “poorly choreographed pop trance hardcore” [appropriately deemed “crabcore”]). Of course, the catch is no one actually likes crabcore (although they are great for a laugh, hence 1.6 million views), because like most wacky genre stews, it’s gimmicky, linear, and worse, done for no good reason, in attempt to feign “new.”
Enter Alex Clare. Essentially, pop dubstep. Popstep? The big “except” you are all waiting for is this: he’s actually really creative. Like alchemy this guy has managed to make his genre compilations (Latin dance, trance, drum n bass, dubstep, rock, pop, soul) greater than just the sum of their parts (okay, producers Diplo and Switch helped too). So, barring any aquatic choreography, this guy might actually have a legitimate new genre name to go by. He substantiates the whole thing with a voice that commands pitch like a boss, and is surprisingly soulful. (Come to think of it, has electronic music ever had such a strong, pop voice that wasn’t set to a dance track, let alone male? Is this l’electronica mature?)
Admittedly, the album does occasionally evoke some of those common multi-genre pitfalls. The Latino hip hop feel of “Up All Night,” for instance, might really just be gratuitous. A song like “Hands Are Clever,” however, appropriately adopts an all together different, soulful feel, reminding me he isn’t just throwing these styles around arbitrarily, but is actually considering genre a powerful and meaningful tool.
Hopefully all that ingenuity is worth it, because he could’ve just done a chicken dance breakdown in a peasantcore tune for an easy ride up the YouTube charts. In any case, here’s what popstep sounds like. If you like what you hear, stream the rest of his debut, The Lateness of the Hour, on his website.