Nick Harriman and Alfie Granger-Howell have been making music together since they met in sixth form in the 2000s. Dusky however was not born until 2011, with the release of Stick By This, a tech house record that touched on classical, soul, jazz, liquid and dub across its 14 tracks. Since its release the duo have continued to release EPs on a regular basis, set up their own record label (17 Steps), enjoyed critical and popular praise, and signed to a major label.
In the UK, they’ve gotten dance music down to an exact science. Just listen to an artist like Duke Dumont or Disclosure: From the methodical arrangements to the meticulous sound design, every element is perfectly deployed to ensure maximum dancefloor impact and maximum earworm potential. The decade’s reigning blend of pop melodies and ’90s house tropes is lush, polished, and it sounds expensive—which is ironic for a decade in which the music industry has cratered and actual nightclubs are increasingly gentrified out of business.
Unfortunately, the vocals on Outer are so nonsensical that they come across as clichéd. "Tiers" is a good example. Presumably, it's a play on the word tears, so that when you hear the line "like tiers falling" you're supposed to find it insightful, but of course faux-wisdom never is. Equally confusing is the working-class sentiment behind "Runny Nose." Despite the track itself dressing to impress a more mainstream/disposable income audience, it's less "the weekend has landed" and more like "our flight to Marbella has landed." The inclusion of Wiley on "Sort It out Sharon" also feels mismatched, through no fault of the venerable grime MC.