Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Review: Major Lazer, "Free the Universe"

On the heels of Diplo's management's follower-buying scandal and having split from beloved-but-clearly-nuts hype man Skerritt Bwoy is how Major Lazer released their newest studio album, "Free the Universe" on April 16.  Fortunately, this newest full-length effort from Diplo and Switch is good enough to wipe all of that from the minds of the fans, and force the focus back onto the really stellar track-making of the team.
I have to admit, I was pretty upset when Skerritt Bwoy announced that his daggering days were over, and that he was leaving the group and dirty dancehall as a whole for Jesus and to get married, I thought there was no way Major Lazer would bounce back.  I know that Diplo and Switch are the core members, but Major Lazer without Skerritt Bwoy was, to me, like Public Enemy without Flava Flav.  There's some odd gap of weirdness and charisma there that can be hard to fill.  After the split, reports abounded that the group's live shows and the few EP releases after "Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do" seemed a little lackluster, but I don't read that on "Free the Universe" at all.  The clean, diverse beats and introduction of new talent like Bassnectar (not a dubstep track!), Buno Mars, and Ms. Dynamite makes for an interesting yet highly danceable album.
It was a little disappointing to my tiny junglist heart that Andy C's version of "Live Free," released last year, didn't make it onto the iTunes version of the album, but to wit, it was more than made up for with many of the other tracks such as "Sweat" (feat. Laidback Luke & Ms. Dynamite), "Keep Cool" (feat. Shaggy and Wynter Gordon), and my personal favourite, "Scare Me" (feat. Peaches and Timberlee).  The album art is also much more refined as hopefully will be the continuation of the Adult Swim tv show and the Major Lazer toy line. 
Say what you want about Diplo, he and Switch have put together a pretty great package in Major Lazer, and the new album and its 10-page art spread do not disappoint.  I'll be jamming to this for most of the summer, I'm sure.

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