Diplo: once our personal hero. Travelling the globe taking the world’s sounds, from the favelas of Brazil to to deserts of Australia, and bringing them to the club. He was responsible for two of the finest albums of the last decade (M.I.A.‘s Kala & Santigold‘s self-titled debut).
But then something curious happened. In 2009, fresh off the back of the aforementioned albums, came Major Lazer. A hybrid dance-reggae project where Diplo & producer Switch could take centre-stage and explore the wackier side of their music. At least that was the intention.
Fast forward to 2015 and Major Lazer (sans Switch – “creative differences”, how original) are releasing their third official album Peace Is The Mission. If peace was Diplo’s mission then he certainly didn’t succeed. Without Switch, Diplo has instead opted to invite a plethora of other producers to ‘help out’ on the album, resulting in a mash-up of generic bro-house trying to imitate Major Lazer’s earlier sound. In fact, the list of producers is somewhat puzzling – with Djemba Djemba, DJ Snake, Boaz, Jr. Blender and more contributing to the production, we’re left wondering what Diplo actually does.
Album opener Be Together featuring Lana Del Rey tribute act Wild Belle is pleasant enough, that is if you haven’t already listened to one of the dozens of Summertime Sadness remixes that this tries to imitate. Follow up Too Original racks it up a level and sounds ike the Major Lazer song we’ve all been waiting for: stabbing brass and pounding kicks seem like an amalgamation of early Lazer hits Mary Jane and Original Don, creating a definite album highlight.
Blaze Up The Fire melds reggae with trap to terrible effect. If post-travelling dreadlocks were a song it would be this. Luckily whoever compiled the tracklist knew that something decent was needed to compensate for the previous ear bleed, and that’s where chart smash Lean On comes in. If you didn’t know, Lean On is already a competitor for song of the summer having entered the top three in the UK singles chart, and there’s no denying how infectious it is. It’s the perfect mix of breezy beats paired with an anthemic chorus, not to mention a show stealing feature from our old pal MØ.
Elsewhere, Ellie Goulding appears alongside some guy on Powerful, a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bryan Adams album (this is never meant in a good way) and Light It Up is probably a track that Rihanna rejected because it was too pop.
So we’ve already blazed the fire, lit it up, and now we’re rolling up for Roll The Bass, another track referencing (lowers voice) weed (gasp), so you can rebel against your parents/school/boss in the most mundane way possible. Following the trap/dance/reggae mash-up to predictable effect, this track is decent enough to dance to but is ultimately forgettable.
Despite only being nine songs long, Peace Is The Mission feels like an album that’s pure filler. It’s clear that Major Lazer have set their sights square on the my-first-rave audience, utilising generic synths, outdated dancehall riddims and trap by numbers to yawn inducing effect. Sadly this album is a mission failed and sees Diplo’s descent from pioneering producer to Major Loser.
Peace Is The Mission by Major Lazer can be ordered here.