NPR logo First Listen: Porter Robinson, 'Worlds'

First Listen: Porter Robinson, 'Worlds'

Worlds

<em>Audio for First Listens is no longer available after the album has been released.</em>

Porter Robinson's new album, Worlds, comes out Aug. 12. Rachel Epstein/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Rachel Epstein/Courtesy of the artist

Porter Robinson's new album, Worlds, comes out Aug. 12.

Rachel Epstein/Courtesy of the artist

The rapid ascent of Porter Robinson, one of the promising young practitioners of electronic dance music, runs parallel with the genre's explosion in popularity in the U.S. Robinson is already headlining major EDM festivals, and with his debut album Worlds, he pivots away from trends to explore a virtual fantasy world inspired by video games and anime.

Worlds careens between subtle orchestration and electronic saturation, held together by melody and a running narrative provided by numerous artificial-sounding voices. "Lionhearted" is the most fully formed pop song on the album, featuring the vocals of Sweden's Urban Cone and employing the sort of huge synth riff you'd hear at a rave, cleverly arranged as the chorus.

Robinson is especially skillful at writing melodies that can be arranged in multiple ways. Some of Worlds' finest moments arrive in quiet orchestral sections that hint at some imaginary science-fiction film score. At 22, Robinson is just beginning to build a recorded foundation, but he's already made an album with a strong identity and an emotional arc — and he's already imaginative enough to draw from a frenetic world to find reflection and hope.

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