Review: “Free The Universe” by Major Lazer

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I first saw Major Lazer on the lists for big-name festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. As I started looking into the DJ group I discovered a song off of their new album Free the Universe called Jessica that featured Ezra Koenig, the frontman for Vampire Weekend. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing.

It’s primary contributor is DJ/producer Diplo but also involves work from Switch, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire. Diplo and Switch were brought to light through their work with British rapper M.I.A. and began collaborating together to form Major Lazer. Diplo has recently partnered with names like Beyonce and Snoop Lion, a major component of the latter’s new album.

Free the Universe is their second album (their first is Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do) and does an excellent job of building upon the unique sound that their debut album created. Filled with sporadic beats, electric drum hits, and bass drops that are all borderline random, the DJ pulls everything together in just the right way to make the chaos seem exacted. With vocal collaborators on every song, even more is added to the already thick layering of sound.

But the most intriguing and enjoyable part of the album, and Major Lazer as a whole, is their incorporation of various ethnic and cultural influences. I can hear everything from Jamaican street music to African drum chants to the kind of Middle Eastern music that reminds me of an Indiana Jones movie. It’s these inspired note patterns and particular rhythms that set this group apart from the rest of the EDM world.

Overall Free the Universe is a success. Because of the sheer number of songs a few of them get lost, but the standouts certainly live up to their names. The single Watch Out For This [Bumaye] is a quick-tempo, fast-lyric song that feels perfect for any after hours activities. Reach for the Stars featuring Wyclef Jean is a beautifully slower tune that attempts to inspire and entertain. You’re No Good, the first track, has a power anthem vibe about it that’s hard to resist, Santigold’s vocals giving it a little something extra.

Major Lazer has definitely proved themselves both relevant and popular with their sophomore album and I would strongly suggest you give it a listen.

-RC

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