Long gone are the days of “Iront Heart,” Netsky has fully embraced the poppier side of drum & bass. And you know what? We absolutely fucking love it.
Listening to III, it seems more appropriate to call 2 a trial run – while it was fantastic in its own right, III really steps up and casts aside all doubt and compunctions over transitioning to a poppier sound. Songs like “Rio” and “Work It Out” are masterclasses in producing a deep and rich pop/DnB hybrid, mixing vocals and bright chords and synths with classic drum & bass breaks and fills.
Of course, not every track on the album is strictly drum & bass. Netsky is a master at toeing that line pretty closely with tracks like “Leave It Alone” and “GO 2.” The same went for 2, with the most memorable tracks (arguably) being the poppier ones like “Love Has Gone,” “Come Alive,” and of course, “Puppy.”
III excels in how seamless the listening experience is, as well. Whereas 2 was still sort of fighting against the pop, interspersing the album with heavier cuts like “Squad Up” and “911,” III doesn’t attempt to make excuses or pretend to be something that it’s not.
At the very least, Netsky doesn’t leave the heavy-heads empty handed, waiting until the penultimate track to unleash “Bird Of Paradise.”
The album concludes with Netsky’s collaboration with Jauz, “Higher.” You might remember that this track was met with a hefty dose of skepticism when it first came out, and I was certainly among that camp. However, as the final track of the album, putting a nail in it so to speak, it actually works really well.
There are a lot of drum & bass albums coming out this year… Fred V & Grafix, Neonlight, Chase & Status, Calyx & Teebee, Current Value, Delta Heavy, TC, Logistics, High Contrast, and those are just the ones I can actually talk about. Among all of them, Netsky’s III will undoubtedly be the one to push the boundaries of D&B the furthest.
No doubt that the likes of Fred V & Grafix and High Contrast et al. have impeccable production on their work, no doubt at all. But at the end of the day, it’s still pretty standard fare. Netsky is really trying something different, and whether you admire or appreciate that or not, he’s reaching people who might have never listened to drum & bass and giving them a foothold. And I think that’s exceptionally important.
Most of all, though, above everything else, this album is really fucking fun.
The album is out now on iTunes and Apple Music. It will be up on Spotify next week.