Major Lazer (at the time Diplo and Switch) released their first album (Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do) in 2009. UP until 2013 they had released 2 EP’s and 3 Mixtapes. Then in 2011 Switch left the due to “creative differences” as claimed by Diplo. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire replaced him in early 2012. Free The Universe was originally set for a November 6th release date. It was then pushed back till February 19th. Then once more to April 16th. At this point I was going crazy but luckily from February 25, 2013 to April 05, 2013 Major Lazer release Lazer Strikes Back Vol 1-4 to tide fans over until the latest release. The four EP’s were a combination of remixes of outside DJ’s as well as Major Lazer remixing other works.
As far as the album the best songs were nothing new. Get Free was released may 18th 2012, Jah No Partial was released October 22 and Watch Out For This (Bumaye) was released February 26th. Chiefly Jet Blue Jet (feat. Leftside, GTA, Razz & Biggy), Wind Up” (featuring Elephant Man, Sweat (feat. Laidback Luke & Ms. Dynamite) and Opal, and Mash Up the Dance” (featuring The Partysquad and Ward 21) were all common in Major Lazer’s live sets. So right off the bat I had heard 7 (great) of the 14 songs. The rest of the songs were good, but not the bangers that I’ve come to expect. The lowpoint for me was track 7, Jessica (feat. Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend). The distortion on his voice and his seemingly endless whining did nothing for me. It was like a punch to the gut, it took all the energy from the first 6 songs and wiped it out.
Overall I’m not sure what “was bad” with the album. I think a reordering of the tracks could have helped the album flow better and keep the energy going. Perhaps that was the difference, the energy. I mean in comparison to Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do. Free The Universe seemed to rely more on… polished digital sounding energy? As opposed to the much more, Caribbean, dancehall, sounding freshman album. I also think a big part of it was Diplo’s releases. Most were phenomenal and this pales in comparison to his other works.
That being said, take a step back and look at the Electronic Dance Music scene as a whole. Diplo, and Major Lazer are in uncharted territory as far as dancehall, and moombahton goes. If you compare this album to most other albums out currently I think it wins. Its sorta like MGMT Oracular Spectacular vs their later Congratulations. When you make a near perfect album the first time, its damn hard to top. Not the best Major Lazer yet but I would still take it over Jame Blake’s Overgrown or The Knife’s Shaking The Habitual. But hey, that’s just me.
Major Lazer – Free The Universe- 8.4/10