French electro maestro Surkin has been around ages, looking back at his releases they go back as far as 2006, but only now has he decided to release his debut album ‘USA’ via Ultralight. Has the 5 year wait been worth it? Well, no. On the whole its a bit hit and miss, as the French producer shows off his influences through turbulent journey of pop, electro, house along with plenty of other odds from p-funk, synth-pop, disco and hip hop. Unfortantely he’s unable to bring all these influences together in a way that works for an album, it’s fractured and a bit all over the place.
The album starts with a medley of X-factor pop and b-boy basslines as you’re treated to the commercial vibes of ‘Loose Yourself’ – it’s not a bad start, but lacks a bit of the French flamboyancy you’d expect from the Parisian. Thankfully, ‘Love Shot’ is just the tonic you need and sets the CD on the right path with buzzing drums, lavish synths and looped vocals which all come together to make a snappy piece 80’s electro.
‘I.N.Y.N’ is the first proper French electro track, and manages to stay on the right side commerciality with plenty of hip hop samples and a fairly forgettable vocal. It twists and turns as Surkin the finally gets those French electro juices flowing. Those of you looking for the second coming of French electro, might be slightly disappointed – USA is not. It does, however, take a lot inspiration from US popular music rather than French/European music.
The references of American b-boy culture can be heard with the schizophrenic ‘Fireworks Hotmix’, which shreds vocals and jittering synths to make a track that ends up being quite annoying, thankfully it’s only a couple of minutes. The plump b-boy basslines are back ‘Silver Island’ and again the track fails to live up to the billing; wonky synths, folksy tones and no real proper kick leaves you slightly underwhelmed. ‘White Knight Two’ does get the recipe right with slaying house synths, big drums, and it’s easily the best track from the album, if a little generic and probably 5 years to late.
‘Rock It’ is another attempt to fuse hip hop and electro and quite frankly is about as cool LL Cool J. It just doesn’t work and comes across more as a idea than an actual fully formed track. It ends up sounding like the rejected theme song for Beverly Hill Cop. The album lurches from one uninspiring track to the next. A case in point, are the lacklustre housey vibes of ‘Harry’ which are then tempered with the dire pop vocals of ‘Never Let Go’, which sounds like they came from a Michael Jackson tribute act from Japan, eventually the track drops but it’s just too late to recover.
We really wanted the Surkin album to be amazing, but it lacks on concept, style and most disappointingly delivery, there aren’t any real standout tracks that immediately make you think genius – we’ve heard plently of amazing music from Surkin over the years, but ‘USA’ ultimately fails to live up to the hype and his abilities.
HBF Rating 6/10