Major Lazer- Free The Universe

500px-Major_Lazer__Free_the_Universe__album_cover

By Andrew

Major Lazer is back with his sophomoric follow up to Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do and after almost four years it has been a long time coming. ML (Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire) have to be some of the most prolific producers in modern dancehall/reggae outside of Jamaica itself. And the album shows it. The roster of guests on this reads like a shopping list of go-to people in modern music with every song featuring artists famous through the dancehall scene and some other special additions thrown in for good measure.

The roster has to be the shining star with this release, with ML’s production reach showing Diplo’s pulling power. Guests such as Flux Pavillion show they can work it with the best of dubstep, Laidback Luke for the trendoid set, Amber Coffman from the Dirty Projectors and even freakin Shaggy. The Shaggy track was originally written for No Doubt but Gwen Stefani hated it so much he decided to record it with Shaggy and Stefani-sounding ring-in Wynter Gordon. With Peaches making an appearance (didn’t SHE drop off the radar?) and Ezra from Vampire Weekend rounding out the most eclectic new release I’ve heard in ages.

I guess in a way this is one of the downsides to this new album, being so eclectic. I find myself forgetting this all comes from one group of people from track to track. I have no doubt it will make it into dj sets for months to come, whether they play Trap, Dubstep, Dancehall, Reggae of just plain Dance. But I can’t help thinking it feels more like Diplo is saying “Look at me, look how many people I can put on one album – What about you, huh?” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as Diplo himself is a hard, hard working man.

I was way more impressed with their collaborative album with La Roux from a while back which showed a hell of a lot more versatility. I have had the pleasure (or displeasure depending on your persuasion) of seeing Major Lazer live a couple of years ago and I really wasn’t that impressed. I had heard so much about them before I saw them that I think their reputation outweighed their reality. I think I feel the same about this album too. Maybe over the coming weeks it will grow on me more, but after several listens through I think this is an extremely ambitious but possibly over-produced album. Look, fans of reggae and dancehall will love it, but for us people who think dancehall/moombahton is an acquired taste, we need more.

***STILL BETTER THAN MOST***

7/10 Big Spliffs

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