One of the most important traits for an electronic music producer is to be versatile while still maintaining a unified sonic identity. This allows them to work with diverse styles and remain recognizable. On his debut LP Two Hearts, the Toronto producer Dabin proves successful in this endeavor, offering a batch of songs with a wide palette of influences that all still fit under the umbrella of his unique musical aesthetic.
Dabin employs elements of EDM, pop, funk, and others on Two Hearts, as well as enlisting a team of vocalists including Mree, Daniela Andrade, Jenni Potts, Lexi Norton, Apashe, Madi, Koda, and Jenna Pemkowski. The blend of vocal and instrumental tracks is seamless, a testament to Dabin’s skillful production and coherent vision for the album.
The title track opens the LP, with sweeping, atmospheric soundscapes that provide a sonic bed for Mree’s vocals. It’s a formula that Dabin uses extensively and effectively throughout Two Hearts. He shows his stylistic restlessness though, on the second track “Hold.” The song begins with pulsing bass drums and guitar strumming that both suggest a path more toward rock before Dabin brings in more electronic elements. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Daniela Andrade’s vocal hook is the defining part of the song as she sings, “Who are we to call each other selfish lovers/ we all need someone to hold.” Dabin shows a clever pop sensibility with the half-time chorus that gives Andrade’s words extra punch.
Things take a turn toward the funk with the following two tracks “Sanctuary” and “Hazy.” The former is defined by a propulsive synth melody that shares time with Mree’s ethereal vocal moments for some explosive electronic goodness. The latter is an instrumental offering that leans more into the hip-hop world with its plodding beat that will make any head nod. The song seems to crave some bars from an MC, even as it works well enough without vocals.
Dabin and Lexi Norton take a more somber approach with “Helium,” a beautifully meditative track of churning piano chords and spoken word. Over Dabin’s pensive piano, Norton writes about accepting the departure of someone important in her life. She likens the person to a helium balloon that slips through the grasp of a child: “confused, yet hopelessly in awe, arms extended, reaching for the strings/ what a fool I was for thinking I could keep you/ pretending you were made of something else, something tangible, something real.”
After a soaring instrumental, almost orchestral bridge from Dabin, Norton returns with an empowering outro where she writes, “I will not fall to your feet/ I will be new/ I will be clean/ a disease of your kind cannot exist within my frame.” It’s a strikingly enigmatic yet touching entry that pauses but doesn’t interrupt the overall flow of the LP.
The remaining tracks show Dabin laying deeper into the electronic realm. He shows a habit of avoiding clichés, though, with frequent use of chopped up hooks that don’t sacrifice any of the energy. This technique is particularly evident on “Worries” and “You & I,” in which his hard-hitting choruses give the listeners (and would-be dancers) what they want while still maintaining a heavy dose of originality.
For a debut LP, Two Hearts is a mature outing from Dabin that certainly makes a statement. He proves adept at touching down in various stylistic realms while maintaining his signature sound. His versatility and vision are especially apparent in his dealings with the various vocalists on the album. Hopefully Two Hearts is just the beginning for Dabin, because it will definitely make the electronic world take notice.
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