Don’t Get Too Close

Don’t Get Too Close

Is there anyone who loves making music more than Sonny Moore? Long after Skrillex had graduated to some of the world’s biggest festival stages, he could still be found DJing pretty much anywhere: basement clubs, house parties, hotel rooms—if there was a set of decks, chances are he’d be jumping on it. So perhaps it’s no surprise that just a day after unveiling Quest for Fire, his long-awaited follow-up to his 2014 debut album, Recess, he surprise-released Don’t Get Too Close, adding 12 more wildly varied tracks to Quest’s already deeply diverse 15. Only “Way Back,” a cottony jungle tune featuring PinkPantheress and Trippie Redd, and the title song, a melancholy collaboration with Norwegian producer Lido and German Haitian hitmaker Bibi Bourelly, were released before the album dropped. Their shared softness turns out to have been a harbinger of what to expect: Don’t Get Too Close is a largely low-key companion to the resolutely banging Quest for Fire. The beats are smoother, favoring slinky house, garage, and trap over hard-charging bass music, and Skrillex’s featured vocalists lean toward cloudy R&B and emo-rap vibes. It’s an altogether more muted affair than its immediate predecessor. There are still plenty of surprises in store. The BEAM collaboration “Selecta” sounds like a deep-house dispatch from the OVO universe. Plucked harp gives the 2-stepping “Ceremony,” featuring sweetly glum verses from Yung Lean and Bladee, a feel akin to Craig David’s Y2K-era UKG. And a triptych of sentimental trap ballads—“Summertime,” “Bad for Me,” and “3am”—sets up a sumptuous R&B song featuring Justin Bieber at his pleadingest. But the secret heart of the album is its title track. Performed on what sounds like steel pans, it’s nearly ambient, and the softest thing Skrillex has ever done; it turns out to be the most personal, too. Bourelly sings first, sketching a picture of teenage depression and musical salvation; then it’s Skrillex’s turn. “I’m on my PC/I see famous people/I think they’re like me/So why aren’t we equal?” he sings, before joining Bourelly on the chorus: “Don’t get too close/You don’t even know me.” After this profoundly unguarded song, the capstone of two albums featuring the most ambitious work of Moore’s career, it feels like we know him a lot better.

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