In March of 2011, producer, remixer, artist, and human being Starsmith took to his Tumblr to give some very valid and respectable reasons as to why he chose to postpone the release of his upcoming debut album. He felt he was too new in the entertainment industry, he felt silly for not working on other artist’s projects, and the finances for the record were taken away from his former label, Island Records. All valid reasons and ones that should be applauded. Though, in the same Tumblr entry, we were told that he was able to keep all of his songs when parting ways with Island and there was a track that was recorded with Alex Brake that was too precious to keep locked away. That song is “Lesson One” and it’s finally been delivered as a summer release, just as it was originally planned! (It’s always extremely nice when an artist sticks to their word).
The song itself fades in quickly and opens up to us a clean and warm laid back house vibe. It’s an extremely melodic piece and one that follows the traditional instrumental driven song, coupled with a vocal hook and chopped up vocal pieces that help give “Lesson One” an extra chilled out, rhythmic, melodic, and creative push. Even the bass is giving away more than a rhythmic pulse to aid the track – it’s rocking with the rest of the instruments, playing off the notes emitted by a secondary lead synth that comes in on the second half of the song.
“Lesson One” also contains synth chords that subtly swell in and fade out, which some may find reminiscent to early Daft Punk records. It’s also similar to the french duo rhythmically due to the sample based kick drum, compressed with a subtle breathing technique that sounds surprisingly clean and pristine and is not pushed to the front of the mix to give it an overall “CLUB YOUR ASS OFF” vibe that a lot of dance musicians try to emulate. It’s a little bit Discovery, a little bit Homework, but all Starsmith and should absolutely not be taken as an imitation track in the slightest. Just someone who got it all right.
The mixing falls in line with “got it all right” as well because it’s flawless. Every single instrument has it’s own space to live in, every synth has it’s distinct frequency-filtered and EQ cut outs to live inside and nothing is fighting for your attention. It’s all subtle and gives way for the listener to focus on whichever section of the track they want to subjectively listen to as opposed to trying to listen to that hidden part of the song (you know the part..the one where the track is brickwall mixed so hard that the vocal and kick drum overshadow any kind of beautiful melody in the underlying track that you’re trying to closely listen to). Everything is present. Everything sounds wonderful. There’s a reason Ellie Goulding’s Starsmith produced debut album Lights was at the top of BBC’s Sound of 2010.
“He’ll never love you don’t you ever start to think he will. Honey, you’re the one that got away. I’ll be there waiting if you ever want to feel the thrill. This is the lesson that you’ll learn someday.” – Beautiful and simple lyrics that repeat themselves through layers, vocoder effects, and chopped up, panned, chorused, and short reverb times to help fill up the mix a bit more and give it an extra push toward perfection.
Perfection. It’s a good word to describe a lot of things Starsmith does.
Don’t get too excited and expect an album soon. This is just to hold us off until Starsmith gets back into the studio to rework parts of the record and ensure it’s the best it can be before it’s released for all of us to thoroughly enjoy. For now, enjoy the adorable video that accompanies the track, pre-order your copy of the EP, let’s get in the convertible and put the top down because I’m proclaiming “Lesson One” to be the summer anthem in the Electronica/Dance genre of 2011.
Track rating: 5/5
Purchase “Lesson One EP” [iTunes]
Wonderful review! You’ve capture the magic of this track in so many ways – from the technical, to the lyrical, plus a bit of historical thrown it! I’d already heard the track prior to reading this, but your prose really made all the nuances come to life! Thank you for being so thorough in a review for one track! Just a quick correction though…Starsmith collaborated on Lesson One with Alan Braxe. Braxe is a bit of a French Touch legend, so it’s kind of a big deal. 😉
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