Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Clarification: full review of Zedd's "Clarity" album released on iTunes today

After much hype and anticipation, the German-born Anton Zaslavski, better known by his electronic alter ego, Zedd, has released his "Clarity" album to the masses, and boy is it impressive. If you want to read a briefer, but nonetheless great, overview on "Clarity", check out Mr. Hackman's post below. Otherwise, here we go!

From just skimming the tracklist, as Mike mentions in his post, you can't help but notice the big collaborations going on in "Clarity"; among others, Zedd recruits the likes of Ellie Goulding, Matthew Koma, and Ryan Tedder to lay down some mesmerizing vocals on top of his already quality productions.

1. Zedd - Hourglass (feat. LIZ): The track opens up with a ticking clock, and adds in some melancholy keys before LIZ comes in and throws some similarly spirited vocals into the mix. Enter the drop, where some supersaw synths cut through the tension and force you bob your head. A little more LIZ gets added in and then just when you're expecting some more clock-ticking, the familiar "Shave It Up" melody shifts your focus completely.

2. Zedd - Shave It Up: There is very little that needs to be said about this track; a club favorite with that gritty bassline, "Shave It Up" is an all-star all by itself. A nice addition that I hadn't heard before was the violin outro that gave the track an even more epic feel.

3. Zedd - Spectrum (feat. Matthew Koma): My iTunes "Top 25 Most Played" playlist is pretty left skewed; I've got 24 songs that have 20-50 plays, and then there is "Spectrum", sitting at the top with a gaudy 384 plays. This song is a timeless masterpiece and deservedly so - Matthew Koma nails the vocals and the chord progression and bassline are a perfect blend of anthemic house and dirty electro.

4. Zedd - Lost at Seas (feat. Ryan Tedder): At the get go, the track has a very minimalist vibe to it, but that is quickly replaced when the saw leads jump in. I was particularly loving that 80's-style bass sound, which was a perfect foil to the huge stereo leads. Ryan Tedder, also featured on Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso's massive hit, "Calling (Lose My Mind)", complements the melody and uplifts the song, especially during that huge second drop.

5. Zedd - Clarity (feat. Foxes): The vocals on this track are my favorite by far; the harmony between the female vocals and huge male chorus in the background add a nice bit of flavor to the smooth electro hook. This track reminds me a lot of Madeon's "The City", and that is definitely a good thing.

6. Zedd - Codec: This is a cool progressive house track that blends a lot of different styles together to make an addictive and extremely danceable 6 minutes. The bassline here is reminiscent of Deadmau5's "Some Chords", while the whole style of the track seems to be a back-and-forth game between a Michael Woods track and a Wolfgang Gartner track. Loving the chopped up female vocals too.

7. Zedd - Stache: "Stache" follows much the same formula as "Codec", with a decidedly Wolfgang Gartner feel, but also really cranks up the bass to make for some real heavy drops, a la Nicky Romero. Be sure to check this track out on a good set of headphones, since the pan work is a nice added touch that can be hard to hear on some big sound systems.

8. Zedd - Follow You Down (feat. Bright Lights): In my uncontrollable excitement for "Clarity", I went hunting around the internet to find anything that may have leaked into the interwebs early. I ended up hearing an instrumental version of this track, which was incorrectly titled as "Clarity", from a 2011 EDC set. I loved the chord progression then and was amped to hear the full length version in better quality today. By this point in the album, though, I wasn't so sure Zedd was going to oblige me, so when I heard the track, with all it's vocal goodness, I was ecstatic. This was definitely one of my top songs.

9. Zedd - Epoc: Another great progressive/electro track, which blends great synth chords with that pumped up gritty Zedd bass.

10. Zedd - Fall into the Sky (feat. Ellie Goulding): The album goes out with a bang, blending the Ellie Goulding vocals we all love so much with a high-energy hook that will surely send crowds into a frenzy at festivals, clubs, and house parties alike. Also, loving what seems to be 50 Cent hyping up the track with his infamous "Go!" from "In da Club". Well done, Zedd, well done. This track takes the cake as my favorite, narrowly beating out "Follow You Down" and "Codec".

The verdict: "Clarity" makes great use of its vocalists to create a strong blend of progressive house and dirty electro, oftentimes in the same track. For the sake of argument, I would've liked to have seen an experimental track or two, but overall, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze, as the saying goes. Let us know what you loved/hated/wanted in the comments below.


  1. Excellent album. Gotta say I wanted to see a few more tracks with gritty Zedd bass but what I realized about Zedd is that he's become an artist who releases songs with heart and soul. With all his tracks before his release I'd stop listening to them after a while cause they had one gritty Zedd hook and then not much else. He's evolved.

  2. Completely agreed, he has mentioned multiple times on Twitter about how he was able to transcend traditional clubby music with a full-length album where he can create a story through the tracks he made that just can't get done by releasing a single.