Though the drops are ornate as ever on Peace is the Mission, the new album from Diplo’s Major Lazer; the featured guests are as talented; the dancehall influence as prominent—it’s hard to detail just how many gallons of creative fluids are lacking. Major Lazer was originally a duo of hooligans, Diplo and Switch, who once chose the statement Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do to best define and summarize their first album. This new third album of theirs (now replacing Switch with various, lesser-known international DJs) is part of a two-record release. Peace is the Mission will supposedly be followed by Music is the Weapon, demonstrating just how humorless Major Lazer has become. In trying to resurrect the spirit of some politico-musical heroes of the ‘60s and ‘70s à la Marley and Dylan, the dancehall beatmasters lose a great deal of their fun. The fun here is manufactured beyond belief, sometimes for better, but more often for worse.
Such cases are as follows. The album opens with “Be Together”, a two-verse-three-chorus slice of EDM with breathy vocals and a melody we’ve all heard before. Equally unexciting is the Ariana Grande-assisted closer “All My Love”, whose bongo rhythms and rap butt-ins cannot save the lukewarm song. And as much as MØ is an all around killer on any track, “Lean On” might be the least special she’s ever been.
But in between these songs, we actually get glimpses of some quality material. The second track, “Too Original” sounds like something right off of Lazer’s debut, with its funky backdrop and creative drops. It’s sour, a bit too harsh for the radio, and feels as haphazardly—not carelessly—put together as some of the band’s first singles were. “Blaze Up The Fire” ignites at the same pace of a lot of Jack Ü songs, but maintains some early HudMo thwomps and trap elements. And Chronixxx’s rap mirrors the lunacy in Diplo’s production. These songs feel childish, working with the same elements that drove Major Lazer to success in the first place.
But in the end Major Lazer’s wilted sense of identity overpowers the special tracks on the album. The free-wheeling personality that inspired brilliance on “Pon de Floor”, “Hold the Line”, and “When You Hear the Bassline” has fallen ill to whitewashed tropes. Peace ought not be the mission, but rather, discord. Chaos is ultimately where Diplo succeeds the most.
Peace is the Mission is out now on MP3, CD, or vinyl, via Mad Decent.