- Give a quick listen to Blurred, the debut album from Michael "Huxley" Dodman, and you might think the London producer is aiming to break out of the clubs, perhaps yearning for a fuller taste of success he had with the dance-floor soul of 2013's Let It Go. Blurred brims with such pop pleasures—shimmering melodies hover over bass-propelled rhythms throughout—and if it's worked so well for acts like Disclosure, why not for Dodman? Of course, it might also be that he's simply using the album format to expand his sound, and one area he's chosen to explore more is that of pop songcraft. Luckily, he's got the chops to pull it off.
In truth, Dodman has always had pop smarts. "Let It Go," along with tracks like "Don't Understand" (co-produced with Sam Russo) ooze with sampled-soul allure. Even his fully instrumental productions, such as "Feel What You Want," have an effervescent tingle. But on Blurred, he pushes that tunefulness to the fore. Album opener "I Want You" lays seductive vocals over a yearning melodic framework, enlivened by sprays of sparkling keys. "Say My Name" (featuring Yasmin) weds its R&B-esque "get freaky with you" lyrics to a skeletal house rhythm. "Give 2 U," with Femme on the mic, is all angelic R&B swoon, toughened up by slo-mo rave beats. There may not be anything as addictive as, say, Disclosure's "Defeated No More," but Dodman's certainly not shying away from sugar-rush kicks.
He's not afraid of rhythmic diversification, either. Blurred boasts a touch of drum & bass with "MXR," and "Barne Dance" anchors its skipping rhythms with heavily wobbled sub-bass. But there's also plenty of straight-up house. "Cakewalk" is a rugged little number reminiscent of a toughened-up Heller & Farley production from the early '90s. "Reassign" has a synapse-tingling (and naggingly familiar) scat vocal riding atop a humming synth-bass. "Callin'," a co-production with Roger "S-Man" Sanchez, is a peak-time groover, propelled by a killer bassline and an infectious "can't you hear me callin'" refrain. That vocal snippet is one of the bigger hooks in an album full of them. Huxley's pop forays might not be for everyone, but there's plenty on Blurred to appeal to both his underground acolytes and, perhaps, a new crop of fans as well.
01. I Want You
02. Barne Dance
03. Give 2 U feat. FEMME
05. Road Runner feat. Obenewa
07. Say My Name feat. Yasmin
09. Broken Dreams
11. Callin' feat. S-Man
12. Never Easy feat. Thomas Gandey