‘Surrender’ is RÜFÜS DU SOL’s cathartic, dissonant release into the sun

Photo of Rufus Du Sol album cover
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Electronic dance music (EDM) often gets a bad rapport from the music industry and listeners alike. It’s synonymous with a sweaty club, party drugs and intense beeps and boops that offer its audience nothing but pounding headaches and ringing ears. But Australian trio RÜFÜS DU SOL has always exceeded the expectations of traditional EDM, taking a more playful and laid-back approach. With its 2013 freshman album, Atlas, the group introduced “tropical house” to the scene — a subset of EDM that blends indie, bedroom pop and electronic music made for surfers, hippies and everyone in between.

RÜFUS DÜ SOL has come a long way since having a chokehold on tropical island drone flyovers, with the group appearing in the background of Alexis Ren and Jay Alvarez travel videos. Surrender sees the group shift away from its originally careless house and electronic music. The trio’s fourth album nurtures its characteristic laid-back sound but also elevates it further with chaotic dystopian synths and lyrics. Surrender is ambient and innovative, acting as the light at the end of the tunnel for RÜFÜS DU SOL; here, the group finds a new spark while still honoring their bright beginnings.

The album’s first track “Next To Me” begins with a solemn piano beat that grows as the track progresses alongside lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist’s husky vocals. Lindqvist pensively guides listeners, building up to the chorus that releases oohs and aahs in a glittery climax of synths. RÜFÜS DU SOL has always separated itself from traditional EDM not only through its sound, but through its dreamy lyricism. “I knew this time would come/ Ever since I first looked in your eyes/ I said, ‘You’re the one,’ ” Lindqvist sings, an example of how the group’s lyricism provides Surrender a depth that most dance music lacks. “Next To Me” highlights how Surrender fine-tunes the trio’s multidimensionality, evoking more emotion in its tunes than ever before.

Elsewhere, “Make It Happen” stays true to the group’s origins with a joyful sound, catchy chorus and overall playful nature. “Make It Happen” builds anticipation with Lindqvist again guiding the audience through sing-along style verses, which eventually burst into a choir of children’s voices repeating, “Love can change your life/ Love can make it happen.” While the lyrics here aren’t as refined in comparison to other tracks, it sticks to EDM’s contagiously cheesy, fun positivity. It’s difficult for anyone to listen to “Make It Happen” without bopping their head and tapping their foot: Simply put, it’s fun listening for anyone, regardless of their music preferences.

The second-to-last track “Devotion” encapsulates Surrender. The track begins with a spiraling of synths and mechanical sounds that feel far away and dissonant. Abruptly, Lindqvist’s vocals break the instrumental into a smooth, complete track. “Devotion” doesn’t necessarily make for the most carefree listening experience, but as a whole, its intricacies and meticulous craft make it a masterpiece. Each new layered sound is utterly complex and intriguing — truly indescribable, yet defining for RÜFÜS DU SOL. It easily propels the group further ahead of other EDM artists, creating a paradoxically dissonant yet harmonious sound that can’t be matched.

Backed by chaotic, heavy instrumentals that elevate the group from their naive inception to the EDM scene, Surrender features themes of yearning, moving on and finally finding acceptance. The album is objectively the group’s darkest work yet, ushering the listener through a thoughtful progression not usually found in a fun dance album.

In its totality, the album represents the catharsis of grappling with tough emotions and finding the courage to let them go. To find a structure and genuine message within an electronic record is rare, and RÜFÜS DU SOL beautifully releases the seriousness of emotions onto the dance floor.

Contact Kaitlin Clapinski at [email protected].