Porter Robinson’s “Russian Roulette”: A Haunting Hyperpop Anthem for a Second Chance at Life

Bleeding with candor, Porter Robinson is at his most vulnerable in "Russian Roulette," the latest single to release ahead of his long-awaited third album.

Robinson's alt-pop reinvention becomes more and more compelling with each breadcrumb he drops on the trail to SMILE! :D, which is scheduled to release on July 26th via Mom+Pop. And with "Russian Roulette," he's written one of the best songs of his career.

Through lyrics as raw as an open wound, the track encapsulates the paradox of the modern artist: coerced to commodify their innermost selves while grappling with the struggle to remain authentic amidst the noise of our vapid world. The lyrics paint a haunting picture of a tortured Robinson in the throes of existential dread, using the metaphor of a deadly game of chance to convey not only a sense of detachment, but also a willingness to gamble with his life.

But beneath the lyrical darkness swirls a bubbly soundscape, a candy-coated bullet laced with cyanide. Each hyperpoppian synth is a hollow-point round piercing the veil of the song's naive optimism, especially when Robinson stuns with a callback to his fan-favorite hit, 2014's "Sad Machine."

"The saddest thing about my whole machine / She says, and she's right, 'It depends on me,'" he croons. Here he holds up a blackened mirror, its tarnished surface reflecting the shadowy corners we all harbor but seldom confront.

"Russian Roulette" ultimately builds to a walloping gut-punch when Robinson, who in years past has opened up about struggling with depression, realizes he wants to see his mom, thank his dad, kiss his cat, lose his phone and marry his wife "one more time." In a lyrical grenade of profound clarity, he shows that finding beauty in the little things is often difficult, but for those able to do it, those simple pleasures transform from mere moments into miracles.

Listen to "Russian Roulette" below and find the new single on streaming platforms here. Fans of Robinson can now purchase tickets to his first-ever world tour, which kicks off in late-August 2024.


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