After last year's Free The Universe album - the first full length release since Switch left the super-producer tag-team for Diplo to run solo - was greeted with general critical acclaim, it appeared that this might just be better off a solo effort. By himself, Diplo has been dragged into the pop lexicon, working with the likes of Beyonce, Chris Brown, Britney Spears and (shudder) Justin Bieber in the last few years. But under the moniker of Major Lazer, his alter-ego Jamaican zombie killer (seriously), he is returning to his primary love of electronic reggae dancehall.
Not that he's completely turning his back on what's "in" right now. His latest release, a 5-song EP, kicks off with a duet of sorts with so-hot-right-now Pharrell Williams on the virally infectious "Aerosol Can". We say duet, as the production on this sounds a lot more like something you might hear on Pharrell's album that Lazer's. All minimal drum beats and wall of claps, right up until the bass drops before the first chorus and suddenly you find yourself in the midst of one of the most addictive songs of the year.
Next up is "Come On To Me", featuring one of the best performances from Sean Paul in years, and we're firmly back in Major Lazer territory. Opening with more drums, before segueing into trumpets and, eventually, a massive almost-wordless chorus that sounds like exactly what you expect an underground Brazilian party to sound like. Whacking out a warped, pitched-up second chorus before fading out on the same drum beat as it kicked off with, it's yet another ludicrous ear-worm.
"Sound Bang" kicks off with the happiest guitar you've ever heard, before ramping up the tempo and turning the song into something you might see soundtracking a parkour scene in an action movie. Then it's back to the happy guitar, letting you catch your breath as some clinks their drumsticks against empty glass bottles, before getting right back into the hi-NRG thick of it. It doesn't quite hit the highs of previous two, but it'll by no means derail your night.
Penultimate track "Lose Yourself" is a prime example of Major Lazer's ability to send a song in directions you have no chance of predicting. Moska and RDX, two reggae artists providing lyrics about expressing yourself, all sunshine and vaguely laidback, before the chorus explodes in a flurry of 8-bit, trance-y sound effects. Impossible not to dance to, yet another solid gold hit in waiting.
And then, finally, exhausted, we reach "Dale Asi", the EP's one and only misstep. With the vague Indian flute used as a spine for the tune, the lyrics are delivered in an almost menacing tone by featuring artist Mr. Fox, and the beat is just too busy and overflowing with too many elements to properly be enjoyed.
Still though, if you're throwing a house party and want to show off a little musical prowess as well as properly kicking things off in a kitchen-sink-and-all kind of way, we can't recommend four-fifths of this EP enough.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE