It only takes a quick look at Diplo’s instagram to deduce that he knows everyone who’s someone, and with his alter-ego Major Lazer’s latest album, Free The Universe, it shows. Featuring a star-studded list of collaborators including Santigold, Shaggy, Tyga and Peaches, he’s created an album that is still very much his own; that, and really fucking danceable. The album’s starter, ‘You’re No Good’, rumbles and hisses, with classy and proud marching-band style drums and production that perhaps lays back from the prior album, but suits the new sounds Diplo is engaging in.
His formula of throwing in as many guests singers as possible only occasionally works. Highlights like ‘Get Free’, featuring Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors shine through, with a slow, winding beat and lush vocals that show Diplo can make a crowd sway as well as shake whilst ‘Watch Out For This (Bumeye)’ further shows off his diverse taste with an incredibly catchy moombahton beat, and a funky reggae-rap that would make anyone get up and twerk their brains out.
The flipside of the album’s variation in style is that sometimes pace is sacrificed. Tracks like ‘Jessica’ seem lazy, drawn out and void of any great emotion, as Ezra Koenig’s voice trails off into the distance like even he’s lost interest in what Diplo’s trying to do here. ‘Bubble Butt’ is danceable but cheesy; maybe that’s Diplo’s plan, but its unrelenting nature seems like a lapse in concentration.
Despite these flaws, you can’t fault Diplo on his ability to make an album that should please both dance and new-reggae lovers everywhere. There’s filler, yeah, and some downright daft moments, but Major Lazer was never even nearly serious. These are songs designed to make you move, whilst capturing you in a Diplo’s childhood Jamaican fantasies, and in this respect, Free The Universe is an absolute success.