Skream – Outside The Box review

The arrival of Skream’s second full-length album comes at a time when his dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man (which consists of Skream alongside Benga and Artwork) has successfully infiltrated the UK Top 10, bringing dubstep well and truly above ground. And what the Croydon-born producer (real name Oliver Jones) attempts on Outside The Box is an album that sits in the greyest of grey areas: between appeasing a loyal underground following and refining a sound for a wider market. No easy task, then, but it’s one that is tackled with aplomb.

There’s just one serious bass tearout of note (“Wibbler”), which sits next to more delicate moments like “Where You Should Be” and “I Love The Way”. Elsewhere you’ll find the impressively sparse and sinister “Fields Of Emotion”, while “Reflections”, a hookup with highly touted drum and bass producers dBridge & Instra:mental, is one of the album’s strongest moments musically.

“How Real” featuring Freckles on vocal duties has definite crossover potential, a bit like Joy Orbison but with more discernable vox, but it’s the hookup with La Roux (a neat follow up to Skream’s ubiquitous remix of “In For The Kill”) that will be most likely to bother the charts. All of this combines to form an affecting, ambitious and downright fascinating album that shows Skream is a force to be reckoned with – above and below ground.

Aaron Coultate