Where would Black Eyed Peas be now without 'Where is the Love?'? Would they have scored another worldwide smash hit eventually, or would they have lingered in the dolldrums of 'Oh-yeah-that-hip-pop-band' territory instead of becoming stars? Similarly, would the world of r'n'b be the same if Timbaland hadn't started producing the sort of slick, AutoTune-heavy music he's now famed for? We'll never know. What we do know is that the Los Angeles group are one of the biggest-selling acts in the world today (over 20 million albums sold) and it's an inevitability that anything they touch will turn to dollars.
The title of the quartet's fifth album is an acronym for 'The Energy Never Dies', and it's somewhat representative of this collection of tunes. Throwing every studio trick in the book at these songs, will.i.am and co. have gone a lot more experimental this time 'round; at times, The E.N.D. sounds like one big Café del Mar-style mix album with barely distinguishable song boundaries. It's frontloaded with vibrant club tunes like 'Boom Boom Pow' and 'Rock That Body', the latter especially indicative of their 'new' direction. In fact, much of this album sounds like the group congregated for writing sessions after discovering Daft Punk for the first time.
Elsewhere, there are dabblings in saccharine ballads run through a disco machine ('Meet Me Halfway') and a number of less complicated tunes that won't alienate a fanbase expecting catchy hip-hop/pop tunes to sing along to. Lead single 'Imma Be' combines the best of both worlds, its smooth flow and suave beat mixed with electro squiggles and a brisk change of pace. Overall, though, The E.N.D. sounds like Black Eyed Peas just want in on the Kanye-led AutoTune bandwagon - but they admittedly make a fair fist of being as nonchalant as possible about it.