Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Downtown

There’s something inherently annoying about Major Lazer, Diplo and Switch’s dancehall project. Firstly because of Diplo’s weird colonial vibe: I’m not sure he’s ever actually done anything wrong in the way he approaches music (people have slagged him for putting baile funk tracks on mixtapes without crediting them, but who’s to say he even knew who made them in the first place?) but you know what I’m saying. All this discovering and Westernising acts from far-off lands, it’s off-putting. Switch just looks like a dude who should know better than making the often absurd music he makes.

So when the two of them decide to make a dancehall album, like it’s just something you do, I’m all ready to hate it. But predictably, it’s good. For a start – and thank fuck – it’s not the MIA-heavy, hipster-friendly fidget-dancehall record it could’ve been. Crookers pop up at one point, but it’s fine. There are points where it feels S&D have gone too far the other way in fact; the Mr. Vegas-featuring ‘Can’t Stop Now’ sounds like it’s trying a little too hard to be authentic, and as is the case with most producer-led albums, the vocalists – who are frequently the focus of the record – don’t always feel they’re trying as hard as they would on their own records.

But generally Guns Don’t Kill Peeople bubbles along nicely: Future Troubles provides one of the album’s vocal highlights on ‘Lazer Theme’, with rapid percussion bobbing for air in a distorted guitar bassline. Turbulence sounds ready to explode on ‘Anything Goes’, and Dutty Artz’ Jahdan Blakkamoore deserves as much credit for his performance on ‘Cash Flow’ as Santigold and Mr. Lexx have for theirs on lead single ‘Hold the Line’. It’s an album that spends a lot of time in second gear, but steps it up when your interest starts to waver (see album highlights: ‘Mary Jane’ and the amazing ‘Keep It Goin Louder’) and doesn’t feature a single misstep. Which considering the famed inconsistency of both producers and how much of a miserable fuck I am when faced with something like this, is quite something.


Chris Campbell

Major Lazer homepage



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