That Diplo fella has been awful busy of late, hasn’t he? Barely a year ago, he dropped the frankly incredibly overlooked EP Apocalypse Soon – in a just world, ‘Aerosol Can’ and ‘Come On To Me’ from that mini-album would’ve been mega-hits – which was promptly followed by his fantastic Jack U album collaboration with Skrillex. Then it was on to producing the majority of Madonna’s Rebel Heart, co-creating a cartoon based on his Major Lazer character for American TV, and now here he is, with another full length album under his Caribbean pseudonym, with talk of at least two more to come before the year is out.
Not that we necessarily want Diplo and/or Major Lazer to take a break, as his eclectic sound helps differentiate him from the blurred lines of Guetta / Harris / Tiesto / et al. It’s also there in his guest stars, as while there are a few biggies to be found amongst the featuring line-ups, they’re all put to unique use. Travis $cott, 2 Chainz and Pusha T all team-up for ‘Night Riders’, which feels a little like Diplo showing off who he’s got in his rolodex, but thankfully the track itself is solid enough to balance that out. Ellie Goulding bounces off reggae superstar Tarrus Riley on ‘Powerful’, which kicks off sounding like it’s borrowed those squiggly synths from Sun Araw track ‘Deep Cover’ before exploding into a hands-in-the-air love-anthem. Ariana Grande helps close out the album with their Hunger Games soundtrack collaboration ‘All My Love’, this time with the aid of Trinidadian soul-calypso singer Machel Montano, which really helps push the entire thing into a full-blown Carnivale-esque wonder.
While first single ‘Lean On’ does prove that Major Lazer isn’t just for the harder-edged party-goer, it’s not even the most commercial track on here. Should ‘Powerful’ get a proper release it’ll do gangbusters, while ‘Light It Up’ with R&B vocalist Nyla is a dancefloor-ready track that Rihanna would have probably killed for; the pre-chorus line “Set it ablaze / Like a candle wick / Hotta-hotta-hotta-hot-hot” is one of the most joyously cheeky delivered lyrics we’ve heard in a long time. Album opener ‘Be Together’ has a lot of the Diplo-produced Usher track ‘Climax’ in its DNA, and it helps cement the three colours that Major Lazer comes in: euphoric, melancholic and aggressive.
It’s the latter that proves to be Peace Is The Mission’s biggest flaw, as the rough edges from the days of stirring up cutting-edge sounds for MIA, Santigold and Vybz Kartel seem to have been sanded down as the production values have gone up. ‘Blaze Up The Fire’ sounds like a leftover from Madonna’s album – the post-chorus breakdown even sounds startlingly similar to ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ – while the generally likeable likes of ‘Roll Da Bass’ and ‘Too Original’ (ironically) are both lacking in inventiveness.
Despite the odd misstep, this is still the biggest party-starting album of 2015 so far. While Diplo has found mass-appeal after working with some of the biggest names in music over the past two years, this should be where Major Lazer finally takes command of the charts. Which can only be a good thing, as those other EDM-producers really need to start upping their game accordingly.