Like so many artists who came up in the post-dubstep era, Hinton has a preoccupation with vocal samples. He seeks out voices from odd corners of the internet rather than typical R&B acapellas, and that method is the foundation of Potential. Hinton scoured YouTube for unheard sounds, focusing on amateur videos with fewer than 100 views. In doing so, he tapped into a human poignancy that could only come from such a vulnerable and unguarded source.
As such, Potential is loaded with voices—people chatter, coo, whine and cry out. "Right now, I don't have a backup plan for if I don't make it," a man says in clipped phrases on opener "Regular." For "Falling Out Of Phase," Hinton uses a recording of someone singing Keyshia Cole in their bathroom. "Florida" takes a big vocal hook—the kind that Pangaea might have played with back in the day—and straps it to a monstrous instrumental made of twitchy rhythms and steel drums. The latter track is among Hinton's best, conveying an array of bittersweet emotions within seconds, and its vocal is key: wordless moans are placed strategically, pushing the song forward in all the right ways. Moments like these find Hinton writing what's essentially pop music, three-minute bites of pure pleasure and vibrant colour.
The way Hinton smoothly works dance music elements into these frameworks is half the fun. The heart-tugging melodrama of "Falling Out Of Phase" is dragged along by trap hi-hats that hiss quietly in the background, while the sentimental "No Loss" gets a major boost when jungle breaks burst in like blazing sunlight. "Regular" makes Reese basslines, one of the more aggressive elements of drum & bass, sound comforting.
When Hinton isn't going for broke with vocals and clever genre interpolations, the results are less convincing. Less notable tracks, like "Retune" and "1804," are saccharine and unaffecting; the constant use of angelic piano grows numbing towards the finish line. That said, Potential is largely a wonderful collection of uplifting and humble electronic pop. Hinton has explained that he wanted to "[tell] my own story alongside the stories of the people I sampled," and "to cope with problems in ways that don't drag you into the abyss." Such a universal mission statement goes some way towards explaining Potential's appeal. He's not working for dance heads or for indie fans—he's making electronic music that anyone can understand.