Recording information: Apollo Studios; Mum & Dads Studios.
In the span of a few years, Anton Zaslavski was inspired by Justice to make electronic dance music, reached out to Skrillex and remixed "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," became an in-demand producer of remixes and original material, and signed to mainstream label Interscope. His remixes for the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, combined with production for Justin Bieber's Believe and singles like "The Anthem," "Shave It," and "Spectrum," made the German musician, still in his early twenties, a rising star in EDM and pop. Zaslavski's rapid ascent says more about his talent and creativity than the lack of skill and imagination required to make dance music. He was the drummer in a metalcore band, but he has definitely found his calling here. Clarity's lone pre-Interscope track is "Shave It," retitled "Shave It Up," made more musical with an all-strings coda, and yet shortened to a brisk 3:11. The song's grand and extended conclusion makes an early-in-the-album statement, however ostentatious, that Zaslavski can compose circles around the majority of EDM producers and do so in a concise fashion. He also knows how to construct an album. This plays out like it was developed and arranged for the sake of repeated listening rather than a quick fix for listeners in need of a rush. That said, there are plenty of peak moments that reflect the immediacy and desperation of adolescent relationships, like the stadium-ready title song (featuring Louisa Rose Allen, aka Foxes) and the fully developed modern pop of "Spectrum" (fronted in a boyish, bright-eyed manner by Matthew Koma). The instrumentals tend to be relatively restrained, but most of them are more attractive than the songs featuring big-name vocalists Ryan Tedder and Ellie Goulding. Zaslavski's not quite in a field of his own yet. "Stache" shamelessly displays the producer's indebtedness to key Justice influence Daft Punk -- it might as well be subtitled "Aerodynamic 2K12" -- but he's getting there. Anyone who appreciates well-crafted dance-pop should probably keep up with him. ~ Andy Kellman