Album Reviews, Dance / Electro — May 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

REVIEW: Major Lazer – Free the Universe

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Artist Name: Major Lazer
Title Name: Free the Universe
Label: Mad Decent
Reviewed by: Rory O’Maley

Call me presumptuous, but without so much as a listen I had already all but written off the new Major Lazer album. As a fan of the original release I couldn’t help but hear the trickle of tunes coming from the release as the mediocre lament of a great concept. When I sat down to listen, however, I was surprised to find my thoughts on Diplo‘s dancehall persuasion has not entirely faltered.

In fact, the first two tracks alone were enough to absolutely wallop my preconceptions into oblivion. Featuring some massive names, a tact taken off every one of the album’s tracks, the album’s lead in immediately instates the hyperactive feeling that launched the group’s first album. Even “Get Free”, which I’d only ever thought was all right, was put in to context well by this fierce energy, giving me a new and unexpectedly appreciative view of the tune. The hype doesn’t end there though, and as the album unfolds tracks like “Sweat”, “Watch Out” and “Jah No Partial” – all flex their dance-floor-tear-apart muscles to breaking point.

Nice words aside, though, there are still plenty of tracks that miss my mark by a good mile. “Scare Me”, which has so many good elements, just ends up sounding dated and annoying while “Bubble Butt” has me dashing for the stop button. Reflecting on Major Lazer’s past release though, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” was great as a whole, however there are plenty of tracks that get skipped over with every listen (*cough*keepitgoinglouder*cough*).

Though it’s not always tops, you’ve got to give credit for how much the collective have extended their repertoire. “Reach for the Stars” is the closest thing we’ve heard to a ballad from the Jamaican character which, though it doesn’t really sit well with me, is a refreshing reminder of the importance of versatility. Even “Keep Cool” which seems like a hideous reinterpretation of “All The Small Things” manages to stay above board as Shaggy‘s vocals turn the train wreck into a comically bearable moment of early 2000’s nostalgia

Ultimately it’s a strange album in terms of continuity but I think most people would be hard pressed to not find a track amongst the 14 that they can get into. I was wrong to write “Free The Universe” off so early. It’s not the best album by any measure and some tunes are truly heinous, but beside all this there remains those few choice tracks that get you jumping up and shaking like a mad ting time and time again.

LINKS

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Free the Universe - Major Lazer

VIDEO

Major Lazer feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors – Get Free