At their very best, dancehall duo Major Lazer offer arrestingly addictive listening.
Mike Diver 2010
To say that producers Diplo and Switch were hot on the underground prior to the launch of this collaborative project is to absolutely nail the definition of understatement. The former broke baile funk in the West, while remixes for the likes of Kanye West and Radiohead established him as a go-to dude for cutting-edge party beats. The latter’s exploits in fidget house marked him as an innovator of no little acclaim. Both were swatting away buzz like it was a veritable swarm of pestering bugs; Major Lazer, surely, couldn’t fail.
And it doesn’t, though the duo’s first full-length suffers from wild fluctuations in consistency. At its heart a dancehall-inspired good-times record, designed exclusively with the shaking of one’s behind in mind, Guns… jerks and twitches throughout its 13 offerings. These turn from volatile beats and graphically intense lyricism to sweetly swinging lovers rock and sing-along choruses certain to stick in the memory. It makes as much sense, from track to track, as watching every episode of Lost in a random order, the whole as coherent as a slurring night bus drunk attempting to explain to you that the stain on his trousers isn’t his doing. But taken as individual offerings, this collection can shine with an irresistible sun-kissed brilliance.
First impressions often stick, so it’s wise that Major Lazer present one of their better-known lyrical contributors to the fore with opener Hold the Line. Santigold runs riot across a skipping beat, complemented by Jamaican Mr Lexx – the latter’s provocative lines engage with a smirk and a wink rather than any misguided misogyny. As a genre dominated by criticism over its occasionally discriminatory lyrical leanings, dancehall’s had its knocks; but Major Lazer focus primarily on the fun to be had within its insistent percussion, playful sampling and compositional immediacy. Elsewhere, Can’t Stop Now slows proceedings to a lackadaisical crawl, splendidly; Jah Dan blesses Cash Flow with a dose of Rastafari spirituality; and the Amanda Blank-starring What U Like is more sexually explicit than anything you’ll find in a Soho adult store (probably).
At its best Guns… is arrestingly addictive listening, and when it dips one can just skip onwards without fear of dismissing any narrative development. A sequel would be more than welcomed, if its protagonists can find the time in their hectic schedules.