Flume – “Never Be Like You” feat. Kai (Singles Going Steady)

Flume is of the most distinctive alt-dance architects working in a crowded field.

Pryor Stroud: One of the most distinctive alt-dance architects working in a crowded field, Flume has made his name — his sound, his voice that undergirds words but maintains muteness — through a pitched-down synth texture that seems to trudge through its own solidity. It’s a negotiation somewhere indeterminately between the religiosity of offhand R&B and the glitchiness of lettered electronica, and the agreement is settled upon but neither party is entirely happy with the compromise. Spite from one end, frustration from the other — this is the problematic endemic to Flume’s work and it’s what sets him apart. “Never Be Like You” depicts this problematic dissected, unspooled, and arbitrated by Kai’s soaring, attitudinal vocal, which boasts a falsetto so triumphant that it seems to escape the snare of Flume’s whirlpooling synth-bass-drum morass. But, in the end, it’s more of a resignation than a dash for freedom; during each chorus, Kai admits her humanity and cathartically sinks into the very sonic mess she was before so determined to leave behind. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: Kai’s vocals on this track are stunning, absolutely gorgeous. The warped, heavy electronic instrumentation and bass is also good and original; I’ve never heard any other artist make an instrumental like this. Overall, the song has a lot of character, is pretty original, and is a nice listen. [6/10]

Alexandra Fletcher: The immersion all over this track is great, it’s an immediately accessible hit. Both visually and sonically sexy, the way the couple is melting into one another parallels nicely against Kia’s earnest crooning and Flume’s syncopated rhythm. Visually, the pained nostalgia is painted smoothly against the sultry beat as she blends into each scene. I expect to be hearing this for awhile. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Eh. Trying too hard. Kai sings nicely, and there’s some good ideas here, but Flume seems hell-bent on overmodulating and oversampling the song into oblivion. Can a song be “de-mixed?” I feel like that’s what’s needed here. [6/10]

Brian Duricy: “Never Be Like You” was a huge song the moment it came out, but does it deserve that commercial coronation? It plays up the electro-R&B sound that’s currently invading pop, and the beat never overpowers Kai’s vocals, though neither register as worthy of taking the lead. Knowing that this sound’s peak has already passed (Alina Baraz & Galimatias’ Urban Flora EP), it’s hard to hear this as anything but the rest of the world catching up to a subpar model. [4/10]

Chad Miller: Does a pretty good job mixing a variety of sounds. The outro seems like something you’d hear in an FKA Twigs song, albeit clumsier. The chorus is excellent and gives Kai’s voice a chance to flourish. My only complaint is that the verses don’t measure up to the exciting chorus. They seem dull in comparison. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: Music for good-looking, hip 20-somethings or others. Yes, the pleasures of love and liquor are shallow. So is this. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.57