Sub Focus’ long awaited sophomore album Torus, presents a far more open and accessible record in comparison to his previous work but in doing so loses so much character and personality. It’s out and out an album made to appeal to mainstream audiences, a choice that arguably alienates his original fans and will turn off more discerning fans of electronic music.
Like other notable mainstream EDM talent, in becoming more accessible, Sub Focus has seemingly traded a lot of the character and uniqueness of his first album for a far more uninspired and homogenised sound. The sound that made his first album so endearing despite a few flaws is replaced mostly with accessible, mainstream tracks that often mimic the style and tendencies of his peers. The loss of Sub Focus’ sound is ultimately the biggest downside to Torus.
‘Close’, featuring the vocal talents of MNEK, effectively demonstrates this. ‘Close’ is one of the album’s strongest mainstream tracks, yet without prior knowledge that the track was by Sub Focus, you’d be easily forgiven for mistakenly thinking it was a new track from Disclosure. ‘Close’ is by no means a bad track, but it lessens the potential of the album. It’s nice to know Sub Focus can sound like Disclosure, but the question is why would he even want to?
Many of the few singles released from the album also feel misguided and trapped by tropes and conventions of ‘EDM’ and its recent devolution by bigger and more notable acts into cliché and repetition.
‘Tidal Wave’ (feat. Alpines) and ‘Turn It Around’ (feat. KELE of Bloc Party) begin as slower, well made and more restrained Drum and Bass tracks with hints of that old Sub Focus sound, before horribly devolving with the idiotic and needless inclusion of tacked on double time sections towards the end. The inclusion of these sections is commonplace within the genre and there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but their use in these two tracks is incredibly misguided. Double time sections work best in tracks that have a consistently high level of energy and only build on this when added towards the end of a particularly energetic song; tacking them onto the end of slower sounding and more contemplative pieces is mind-bogglingly confusing and ruins what could otherwise have been a far better track.
Many of the albums other tracks are barely worth discussing, they’re neither so bad as to be enraging nor are they good enough to rave about. They fill the void between the album’s highlights which are few and far between. Torus isn’t a bad album; it’s merely a serviceable and more mainstream record made for mass appeal and is sure to entertain club-goers and the general public for the next few months. More ardent fans of electronic music may be left feeling more than sour with the album though, given the length of time it took to come out and the actual tracks on offer, especially considering how much more interesting and boundary pushing music other producers are putting out right now.