Diplo's gang return with a typically genre-hopping but patchy third album
‘Peace Is The Mission’ arrives at a point where Diplo – the brains behind Major Lazer and its ever-changing line-up – is a very big deal indeed. The last year has seen the 36-year-old headline a New Year’s Eve gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden, produce seven tracks on Madonna’s ‘Rebel Heart’ and release an album of thunderous, mega-EDM with Jack Ü, his collaborative project with Skrillex. Diplo, the underground producer known for his work on the first two MIA albums and Major Lazer’s 2009 debut ‘Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do’ is long gone. The question, then, is can he maintain the genre-hopping charm of previous Major Lazer records without alienating his new audience?
The not entirely satisfactory answer – from a not entirely satisfactory album – is: sort of. Diplo’s magpie eye for global dance trends means his productions are generally far more interesting than most EDM electro chug, and there are several brilliantly outlandish tracks here that nail the sweet spot between ambitious adventure and out-and-out stadium bangers. ‘Too Original’ lives up to its name by combining dancehall atmosphere, a lurching kuduro beat and what sounds like the theme tune from Dumbo. ‘Blaze Up The Fire’ adds reggae skank to evil bass lurches and sickly fairground organ noises, like a demented take on The Prodigy’s ‘Out Of Space’.
The problem is that such excess exposes the weaker tracks for the thin gruel they are. ‘Powerful’, which features Ellie Goulding in an anaemic vocal duet with reggae singer Tarrus Riley, is electro-by-numbers, complete with lyrical references to “stars above”. It wouldn’t even be the most interesting thing on an Ellie Goulding album. ‘Lean On’, featuring MØ and DJ Snake, has a catchy sunset melody but sounds tame, and ‘Night Riders’ (featuring Travi$ Scott, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and reggae MC Mad Cobra) is just plain dull, four minutes of trap drudgery that an inspired verse from Mad Cobra can’t save.
This is a record on which most Lazer acolytes will find something to love. But finding someone who’ll love everything on an album as unsettled as ‘Peace Is The Mission’ could be an even bigger undertaking than locating peace itself.
Release date: 01 Jun, 2015