1. Aerosol Can [feat. Pharrell Williams]
2. Come On To Me [feat. Sean Paul]
3. Sound Bang [feat. Machel Montano]
4. Lose Yourself [feat. RDX and Moska]
5. Dale Asi [feat. Mr. Fox]
Running time: 17:29
Major Lazer is the dancehall project of well known producer and DJ Diplo. The debut album flew under the radar in 2009, but last year's Free the Universe had more shimmer summer anthems than you could shake a glowstick at and in early 2014 Major Lazer returns with a handful of superstar collaborators with five-track EP Apocalypse Now ahead of another full length record likely to follow by year's end or early 2015.
Apocalypse Soon sets out immediately to recpature the lightning in a bottle that was Free the Universe and fails spectacularly, lacking the imagination and creativity that was so prominent on Diplo's previous efforts. Diplo is one of the biggest names in the genre and his production can be found on a plethora of Top $0 hits but his success rate takes quite the pounding here. Unquestionaly the closest Apocalypse Soon gets to a hit is the opening track “Aerosol Can,” and that should come as no surprise considering it's guest vocalist is none other than Pharrell Williams. In 2013, Pharrell dominate with featured spots on the year's biggest singles, Daft Punk's “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines.” While “Aerosol Can” is likely to get a significant amount of airplay, it's staying power is non-existent. Sure, it's catchy enough, but doesn't have the spark of Pharrell's recent other works, which he is no doubt saving for his solo album released next month.
Even the veteran Sean Paul fails to ignite “Come On To Me,” a three-and-a-half minute ditty with all the charm of an overweight an overzealous office type coming on to his slender, other-league secretary at an office party. Paul's vocal stylings is enough to turn off a certain demographic of listener, but even his fans will admit that this isn't his beast work, and the chorus builds in a “Swagger Jagger”-like frenzy that grinds like chalk on a whiteboard. It might inspire some questionable dancing in a club at 2am, but by that time the patrons are so far gone what's playing out on the PA system would be irrelevant. The track is more akin to Diplo's more familiar work than the opener, but it features so many ill-advised “drops” we're not quite sure whether we're coming or going.
As is the norm now for a Major Lazer release, the record is laden with foreign influences, from the puzzling ukulele that opens up the awfully titled “Sound Bang” and the world-instrument sampling of it's Spanish album-closer "Dale Asi,” but the way the album is formulated is confusing in a way that it makes you want to turn the sound down rather than get up and lose yourself in such a showcase. In addition to last year's full length record, Diplo is known for releasing EPs as often as it takes to keep his tracks playing on major radio stations, but with forced lyrics referencing Candy Crush, you begin to wonder whether it's all a bit of an audible illusion and we're just hearing the same things over and over again. By the time we're into the closing track, you're not actually sure if the album has started playing again. If it's weren't for Pharrell's dazzling wordplay in the opener, you'd have no idea where this album begins and where it ends.
Major Lazer - “Aerosol Can [feat. Pharrell Williams]”
The 411: If you're over the age of, let's say 21, you won't want to hear this any time or any place. If you're under that age, you might find something here that pulls you out of your seat for one last go round on the dancefloor before finally calling it quits, but you'll be wishing you caught the last bus home rather than fork out for a taxi because this five-track EP offers you nothing. Even the man of the moment Pharrell cannot save this mess, which is little more than Diplo's way of ensuring he continues to get airplay. You get the impression he could knock one of these records out once a week from now until the end of time, but the truth is there'd be no need – he'd just have to put the same record out and those who buy it wouldn't actually notice the difference. Don't be fooled by the enjoyable Free the Universe, there's nothing to see here. If I didn't have the option of turning it off, I'd be hoping the apocalypse was sooner than soon.