Although less of a name brand than his PC Music buddies A. G. Cook and Danny L Harle, Easyfun has played just as significant a role in pushing modern pop to its extremes. The debut EP by the British producer, born Finn Keane, was PC Music’s first ever release, a gaseous and disorienting beat tape that sounded a little like a methed-out take on TNGHT’s permanently in-the-red hip-hop experiments. Since then, his name has continued to pop up in unexpected places—he co-wrote Rita Ora’s “Let You Love Me,” a massive hit everywhere except America—and all the expected ones: He’s worked on many of Charli XCX’s best tracks, including Pop 2 opener “Backseat” and her recent Billboard-charting Barbie cut “Speed Drive.”
As a writer and producer, Keane is more of a traditionalist than Cook or Harle. His songs have become aerodynamic and tightly structured over time, the straight-ahead nature of his music belying his origins as a producer of punishing, footwork-adjacent experimental tracks. His first EP in eight years, ELECTRIC, parlays those pop instincts into a set of songs that’s dynamic, rich, and bright. “Audio,” the EP’s opening track, is perpetual-motion-machine-EDM with a bubbly, infectious refrain: “Audio, all you ever want.”
There’s always been an earnest core to PC Music releases, and the same goes here. Although two of the songs on ELECTRIC, “HARDPAIN” and “carelesscarelesscarelesscarelesscareless,” are built around aggressive jackhammer synths, the rest of it is comprised of fairly traditional songs about love and heartbreak. All that sentimentality is in service of a greater purpose. With the exception of “Know Who You Are”—the EP’s weakest track, and not coincidentally its most contemporary-sounding selection—ELECTRIC feels, in many ways, like a loving tribute to late-aughts and early-2010s EDM, recreating its spine-tingling drops, ecstatic chord progressions, and heart-on-sleeve affect. “Audio” plays like a more sugary take on Aviici’s “Levels.” The upbeat but downcast “Be Your USA” sounds like a more sophisticated version of The Chainsmokers’ first hit, the Daya-featuring EDM-R&B hybrid “Don’t Let Me Down.” Rubberised wub-wub-wub basslines, the type once favored by Skrillex, tear through “HARDPAIN” and “No Body.”
These are works of unadulterated nostalgia, replete with the kind of shellacked, high-saturation cast that entails. If you were partial to that style of music, as I was, listening to ELECTRIC can be a surprisingly emotional experience: The EP’s deep, shuddering bass notes and unashamedly romantic melodies give me the same shiver-inducing thrill I felt when I first heard, say, Calvin Harris’s “How Deep Is Your Love (Chris Lake Remix)” or Grey, Zedd, and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving.” Is that embarrassing to admit? Maybe a little—but Keane graciously references this sound without a whiff of irony or cruelty. 2010s-style EDM-pop is coming back into vogue right now—evidenced by Kim Petras’ latest album, as well as the recent chart resurgence of David Guetta—and EASYFUN’s take on big-tent euphoria is more interesting than most.