The four years between Flume's stylish self-titled debut and its follow-up were long enough that Harley Streten racked up imitators almost as quickly as expectations for what he'd do next. With Skin, he sets himself apart from the former and exceeds the latter, uncovering more sides and bringing more focus to his fusion of dance, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. A cadre of well-chosen, equally genre-hopping collaborators helps him do this with surprisingly artful results: Kai's graceful vocals on "Never Be Like You" equal Streten's beats without distracting from them, while Tove Lo brings some of her sexy edge to "Say It" (and both songs underscore that dance/pop hybrids don't have to sink to both genres' lowest common denominators). Skin's hip-hop leanings also feel more organic than they did previously, whether on the meeting of veteran and new talent that is the Allan Kingdom and Raekwon collab "You Know," or Vince Staples' cameo on "Smoke & Retribution," which also features up-and-coming Aussie producer/singer Kučka, who also features on the more abstract "Numb & Getting Colder." The album's brightest highlights bring out the best in Streten and his guests: MNDR takes a convincing turn as a pop diva on "Like Water; and even though he's Auto-Tuned, Beck has rarely sounded as uninhibited as he does on "Tiny Cities." Meanwhile, Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano elevates "Take a Chance" into one of Flume's finest moments yet, her soulful tones a perfect match for its powerful builds and drops. Though instrumentals like the darkly percussive "Wall Fuck" and the fizzy, pixelated "Pika" showcase Streten's range as a producer, the vocal tracks are so compelling that his solo turns sometimes feel like afterthoughts that bloat the album. While it could have benefitted from some editing, Skin still shows a lot of growth -- it's more mature, and more memorable, than Flume.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares