Thursday, August 19, 2010
Major Lazer – Lazers Never Die
1. Sound of Siren (ft. M.I.A. and Busy Signal)
2. Good Enuff (Cash Flow Dub) (ft. Collie Buddz and Lindi Ortega)
3. Bruk Out (Buraka Som Sistema Mix)
4. Can’t Stop Now (K.L.A.M. Remix)
5. Jump Up (Thom Yorke Remix)
If there's one complaint you can lobby against Lazers Never Die-- the new EP from Diplo and Switch's global party project Major Lazer-- is that we're only now getting our hands on it, a month or so into summer. A minor qualm, but it's a shame to think about how many Fourth of July barbecues could've benefitted from this batch of originals and reinterpretations from the duo's hybridized dancehall debut, Guns Don't Kill People-- Lazers Do. To paraphrase Scott Plagenhoef's review of that album last year, this is clearly music that works best in the heat, but it still has the dexterity to stick around once the flip-flops have been tucked away. On this concise and surprisingly fresh sounding EP, Major Lazer retain the sweat-soaked club feel that's curried them so much favor but also appeals to their perennial accessibility.
It's no secret that Major Lazer have racked up some serious frequent flyer miles this year. And in between the daggering instructional videos and recording at the legendary Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica (where much of Lazers Never Die was created), it's surprising to find that these guys have had the time to get any kind of work done at all. Last month, they released a remix record with La Roux, a somewhat mismatched pairing but one that proved fruitful and thoughtful. And even if the brunt of the work here has been shouldered by the remixes of tracks found on Guns Don't Kill People, you can tell that the EP is no toss-off.
Among the new songs is the mp3 blog favorite "Sound of Siren", which features Lazer's most familiar affiliate, M.I.A., and Jamaica's Busy Signal. With its rigid snare-snappings and militant, sing-songy hook, it's a clever entry point given the Major Lazer mythology. Dancehall heavy-hitter Busy Signal swoops in and does his thing effortlessly, snarling and flailing all over the otherwise uncluttered, straightforward lurch. Somewhat overlooked when it wound up online at the beginning of this year, it's nice to see "Siren" getting its proper shine here, with both M.I.A. and Busy making their stop snitchin' talk convincing. Better still is the Collie Buddz- and Lindi Ortega-assisted "Good Enough", a pretty down-the-line island-riddim affair that employs great melody and some aqueous synth accents that help lodge this one right into your brain. Ortega-- an under-the-radar Canadian singer-songwriter-- somehow walks away with it, deliciously channeling a rocksteady-pumped Gwen Stefani.
But the remixes feel equally vital to the EP, because after all, the great appeal of Major Lazer is watching these dancehall concoctions transform, as elements of dub and hip-hop and reggae are also smashed into one freaky, juiced up mutant (kinda like the fictional Major Lazer himself). Buraka Som Sistema do a house-y two-step all over "Bruk Out", giving it the extra 10% of oomph that Einstein's gleefully whacked-out feature always deserved. And even if the K.L.A.M. remix of "Can't Stop Now" doesn't break much new ground, guest rapper Miss Banks brings enough clever, dirty sass that it's hard to pass up. Even the big name-drop moment doesn't disappoint: Thom Yorke laces "Jump Up" with queasy, slow-burn dubstep moves, providing an unexpected amount of movement with some simple, sandpapery claps. And it might go without saying, but everyone gets a bonus points for knowing to leave "Keep It Goin' Louder" well enough alone...www.pitchfork.com