Major Lazer – Free The Universe
Once upon a time Diplo made visionary, psychedelic hip-hop music infused with ragga vocals, artfully distressed samples, and a mercurial approach to beats that saw him nod to baile funk, electro and nascent dubstep sounds. Then Diplo got famous, and founded Mad Decent. Next came Major Lazer. Their sophomore album, delayed due to a range of factors including the permanent departure of Switch, comes on the back of world tours, and remix work for a plethora of mainstream artists.
Unfortunately, it's a victim of Diplo's success. The beats are faultless club bangers, although with perhaps a tenth of the imagination found on 2004's Florida. They are ruined, however, by insipid, flat, character-less vocals from the likes of Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors, and the decidedly less scintillating likes of Bruno Mars, Wyclef, and, erm, Shaggy. Shamelessly catering to lowbrow tastes, this is a bloated, humourless, vapid album that will probably soundtrack the Spring Break of a million douchebags. Creatively bankrupt. [Bram E. Gieben]