Renowned for their organised chaos, dancehall collective Major Lazer’s previous releases have been fast, furious and frenetic affairs with only one goal in mind – to get the party started. However, as evident by its name, their third studio effort, Peace Is the Mission, is an unexpectedly more calming, composed and harmonious example of their production talents.
Clocking in at just over 32 minutes, the follow-up to 2013’s Free The Universe still contains several of the kind of club anthems that Diplo, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire and, of course, their animated sidekick – whose new cartoon recently debuted on FXX – have built their hedonistic reputation on.
Featuring guest vocals from Jamaican dancehall star Chronixx, “Blaze Up The Fire” is a raucous blend of trap, reggae and EDM which evokes early The Prodigy at their floor-shaking finest. “Too Original” is perhaps a little too generic to justify such a title, but its gurgling synths, thumping basslines and frenzied beats would still raise the roof at any carnival. Elsewhere, the Bollywood-tinged rave of “Roll The Bass” adds to the group’s canon of twerk-friendly anthems.
However, having previously produced chart smashes for the likes of Madonna, Justin Bieber and Usher, bandleader Diplo now seems to keen for his own pet project to become hitmakers in their own right. “Lean On,” a thoroughly addictive and surprisingly low-key slice of moombahton featuring Frenchman DJ Snake and Danish synth-pop siren MØ, is still climbing up the US Hot 100, but Peace Is the Mission has plenty more where that came from.
Fronted by Chicago psych-pop duo Wild Belle, the atmospheric trip-hop of opener “Be Together” is such a departure that you have to double check you’re playing the right record, while “Powerful,” a collaboration with reggae singer Tarrus Riley and the ubiquitous Ellie Goulding, is perhaps the closest Major Lazer will ever get to a power ballad.
This change in direction doesn’t always produce such impressive results. The heavily autotuned and utterly forgettable “Night Riders” wastes its who’s-who of contemporary hip-hop line-up (Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Travi$ Scott), and the slightly schizophrenic “Light It Up” can’t quite decide whether it wants to be a light summer-y reggae jam or a laser-firing dancehall banger.
Fans of Major Lazer’s more riotous fare might feel a little dismayed at the group’s sudden bid for mainstream success. But the array of potential hits on Peace Is the Mission suggests they may have to get used to it.