Album review: Major Lazer – ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do’

Diplo and Switch team up for a punky reggae party, and we’re all invited

Don’t believe everything you get told at school. You can’t get pregnant just by sitting on a toilet seat, excessive masturbation won’t make you go blind (although, Lord knows, if you are still at school, you’ll try) and there is nothing intrinsically valuable in wilfully eclectic taste. The type of kids who are bragging about being into Mastodon, Masta Ace, Tiny Masters Of Today and all points in between, those ascetic obscurants are the same people who, 15 years from now, will come home to their achingly ephemera-stuffed flat, gaze lovingly at their 10,000-strong record collection and spend yet another night not listening to any of it. Eclecticism sucks. Find your own, specific musical vein and mine it deep, kids – it’s more satisfying and it’s much easier to get laid too.

This doesn’t bode well for Major Lazer’s debut, a wildly esoteric collaboration between the achingly hip Diplo of Philadelphia and the equally fashionable Brit Switch. Between them they have ties to Santigold, MIA, Bonde Do Rolê, Spank Rock and all manner of other puddles of modern toss. In addition, they’ve done that annoying modern smart-arse pop thing of inventing a fictional character (Major Lazer, Jamaican commando, zombie war veteran, lasers for arms, blah blah blah) to accompany the record, which may be terribly nowadaysy and multimedia, but it actually suggests a lack of faith in the actual music. So it’s really

a bit of an arse to have to report that, for all of the above, ‘Guns Don’t Kill…’ tends generally towards the ace, being as it is a blistering, frenetic runaway tube ride through 20-odd years of dancefloor and dancehall.

With its chief ingredients being ragga, reggaeton and the more brutal end of Miami Bass, it’s fair to assume that Kings Of Leon fans are likely to gawp at it with the stunned incomprehension of a recently punched horse. And that’s a shame, because there’s a bug-eyed, thrashy lunacy to the likes of the punk-reggae ‘Lazer Theme’, the shitfacedly loopy baile funk of ‘Pon De Floor’ and the pulverising ringtone-electro opener ‘Hold The Line’ that suits the moshpit as well as any other kind of mash-up.

Sadly, the goofball big-band-jazz-with-breakbeats ‘Mary Jane’ is about as

good as its description sounds, and ‘Keep It Goin’ Louder’ is about as satisfying and queasily sleazy as being seduced by one of your own uncles. But it’s held together by a pleasant rawness and lack of concern with matters commercial – Santigold’s the only big-name mate on display.

If you have to buy one painfully esoteric, scrotum-tighteningly hip, show-off album this year, you may want to make it this one.

Pete Cashmore

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Click here to get your copy of Major Lazer’s ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do’ from the Rough Trade shop

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