New Album Review

“Things Don’t Always Go the Way You Plan:” Celebrating 10 Years of Flume

To commemorate his tenth year as Flume, Harley Streten put out an old unreleased track on November 6, 2022: “Slugger 1.4 [2014 Export.WAV].” The track strongly resembles the warm, grainy, not-quite-polished songs found on Flume’s self-titled album, released in 2012. Shortly after, on February 8, 2023, fans were gifted an entire mixtape of unreleased tracks on “Things Don’t Always Go the Way You Plan.”

Evolution of Sound

His newer sound has evolved with his willingness to experiment over the years, becoming increasingly abstract, but refined; his beginnings, however, are somewhat of a tenet of adolescence—they bear a distinct nostalgic quality for this reason.

The lyrics of tracks such as “On Top,” “Sleepless,” “Insane,” and “The Greatest View,” are branded with youthful angst and desire, likely a strong reflection of a then-20-something Streten—it’s no surprise then, why so many fans of similar age gravitated towards his music, subsequently sticking around to grow up alongside him.

My introduction to Flume was through “Helix,” the first track on his 2016 album, “Skin.” Its prolonged buildup is an effective lure into full-frontal limerence, and the drop is well worth the wait.

“Helix” sets up the rest of “Skin” perfectly, and each following track beams with its own kind of clarity: “Never Be Like You,” featuring Kai, took radio stations by storm; “Lose It,” “Numb & Getting Colder,” “Smoke & Retribution,” and “Wall F—” are all wonderful preludes to Flume’s most experimental pieces in 2019 album “Hi This Is Flume.” The rest of “Skin” harbors fluttery pop sounds and summer anthems that are easy to fall in love with. Evidently, I speak from experience.

Unreleased Tracks

Following the release of 2022 album “Palaces,” Streten has been teasing fans by posting videos of a slew of unreleased tracks. On February 10, 2023, he finally decided to put some of them out as an album, titled “Things Don’t Always Go the Way You Plan.” Each song’s name is in the form of a .wav export title, revealing what year it was created.

It’s been incredibly fun to see the definitive differences between, say, a track from 2012 and one from 2020, as well as to trace elements of each one to releases from their respective years: for example, “Why 1.3 [2012 Export Wav],” like the aforementioned “Slugger 1.4 [2014 Export Wav],” bears gorgeous, romp-y, LFO’d synths and crackly white noise; “beat 58 1.1 [2020 Export Wav]” has the same style of plucky modular synth as “Spring,” the last track in “Hi This Is Flume.”

Given the variation in sound from “Things Don’t Always Go the Way You Plan,” it functions less like a cohesive album and more like a time capsule of sorts—and that’s perfectly fine. It’s a celebration of the evolution in Flume’s sound over the past decade, and each track is a guest I’m willing to welcome with open arms.

By dirty chai ☽

hi ! so nice to meet u, i'm dirty chai <3 my favorite genres are alt/experimental r&b, soul, electronica, underground hip-hop, and all shades of folk and psychedelia.