06b1cf1ce51b19de2bee241ea7290cf8Artist: Major Lazer
Title: Peace Is The Mission
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Label: Mad Decent

During the time Diplo put together Free the Universe, the EDM head figure had a lot of people to satisfy with his Major Lazer project.

His globe-trotting dancehall project started with fellow producer Switch became a festival mainstay, and Free the Universe attempted to fit all of the project’s widened reach. Though the record yielded some great dancefloor geek outs, other pop glories like the blissful slow jam “Get Free” and the club catering “Bubble Butt” felt like outliers next to the hop-scotch drop of “Jah No Partial.” A lot happened throughout its 14 tracks, but Major Lazer seemed to be left more in pieces than a solidified project.

The newest installment of Major Lazer, Peace Is the Mission, corrects this problem. For one, the guest list of this record is kept much tighter and in house. A majority of collaborators pairs with Diplo organically. At least none feel so disparate as Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Less names present also means less voices competing for attention. This goes for Diplo’s production choices as well. He already showed off a grab-bag of beat tricks in Free the Universe. Now he gets to focus on a singular vision for the reformed Major Lazer more selectively.

And focus he does. He still gets good mileage on bugged-out drops. Placed right after each other, “Too Original” and “Blaze Up the Fire” both unleash buzzsaw grinds that swallow their featured vocalists whole. He adds a sleeker sheen to the beat in “Light It Up,” which bounces around equally manic but smoother and more colorful in sound. Though the bass craze wildly entertains per usual, Peace Is the Mission’s treats are the more pop-leaning tracks that has Diplo letting the vocalists shine as much as the production’s gooey center.

Current heat-seeker “Lean On” benefits most from Diplo’s even-handed presence. His glistening production opens the floor for the gutsy to play lead. Meanwhile, DJ Snake’s voice-warping hook works well with the slight tongue-in-cheek vibe that a Major Lazer song calls for. MØ, too, voices this serious-yet-fun sensibility fit for a project repping ambitious yet cheesy album titles like Peace Is the Mission and Free the Universe. All three contribute their strength for the greater good, and not one steps on another’s toes during the process.

Diplo also finds a way to work huge drops into his pop crafts. After all, they are Major Lazer’s bread and butter. Though far from hair-raising compared to the other two tracks mentioned, the Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley duet “Powerful” puts the producer’s tidal releases to good use. The intense burst in its center aids the vocalists and their message, instead of the other way around. “There’s an energy / when you hold me / when you touch me/ it’s so powerful,” the two sing in the chorus. With such a dramatic cry, the song demands an equally dramatic beat to match.

Peace Is the Mission gets to the end quickly, and much like its nine songs, it runs smoothly without unnecessary detours. Compared to the attention-demanding burn of Free the Universe, the album’s concise run is a fresh, focused switch-up. For a leading name in a scene full of producers who dazzle with excess, pulling back for its sound also speaks louder than piling on yet another load just for kicks.

By: Ryo Miyauchi