After he dropped 2011's pretty great 100% Publishing, Wiley seemed to have finally found a comfortable perch from which to keep tabs on the world of grime that he would insist he still rules over. That album, and the output that subsequently followed, found him focusing primarily on the syncopated, excitable mid-tempo thump that he has always thrived on, (classic grime, in other words), but coupling it with the kind of sheen that only someone with the kind of chart success that Wiley has had would feel so comfortable with.

Following the success of 'Heatwave' and those that have come in its wake, was certainly what Wiley was aiming for with The Ascent, his latest full-length, and he's made the right moves toward achieving it. Most of the album is made up of generic four-to-the-floor crossover attempts, amongst which 'Heatwave' stands out simply by virtue of adopting a vaguely dancehall-inflected flavour that differentiates it from the EDM murk it's shrouded in.

That song also flags up one of The Ascent's most glaring deficiencies; the verses, that throw together hyperactive bounce and Wiley in playfully sing-songing party starter mode, are just fine, even pretty fun. But they are torn apart by a chorus so vacuous and lazy as to scare off anyone who isn't a straight-up top 40 devotee. It's a problem that at least half of the album's tracks suffer from, courtesy of an interchangeable roster of guests encompassing N-Dubz' Tulisa and the album's resident wailer Ms. D. There is nothing wrong at all with trying to cross over, and in fairness these unabashed tactics seem to be serving Wiley well thus far; but attempts this bare-faced should be treated with nuance and adherence to quality control, not slapped together and unceremoniously welded onto songs already buckling under the weight of their own populism.

These decisions are made all the more baffling by the fact that Wiley's verses routinely throw up potential hooks that would be far less jarring and would wind up sounding not only more accomplished but far more singular. Wiley is simply better at doing what he's more used to, and that's in evidence throughout this album, not only when he cuts through his own bad decisions during its weaker moments, but also when he decides to fully embrace his grime roots during its stronger ones.

These moments are rare, but they wind up being unequivocal highlights; the buzzsaw stomp of the Kano and Lethal Bizzle-featuring 'First Class' packs more punch than almost anything else on the record, while the similarly simplistic but no less pummelling grime posse cut 'Skillzone' does the same. These, along with the chopped vocals and reflective lyrics of the albums excellent intro, set the bar disproportionately high enough so as to be almost cruelly misleading. He dabbles with the sound again on the less stellar 'Chainsaw', but these are the only real glimpses of the feral grime MC that Wiley can still be.

Buried at the end of the album are some gentler introspective numbers that, shorn of gratuitous features and needless standardised choruses, remind you how compelling this guy can be when he isn't being suffocated by breakneck dance beats. But they arrive a little late in the game, and the aftertaste left by The Ascent is still bitterly saccharine. Despite this misstep, though, there is comfort to be had; in the last few years alone, Wiley has shown himself to be perfectly fine with switching styles and leapfrogging from one end of the UK music spectrum to the other, and who knows? Maybe the bread that he'll almost certainly stack on the back of The Ascent will free him up to come a little harder next time around, which judging by his previous tendencies toward the prolific, won't be too far down the line.