At the very end of 2014, Major Lazer featured on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack. Mere months ago, they released their most internationally popular single with Lean On. Directly after that, they even got their own animated TV series based on the imagery that has surrounded their albums since their first release. It’s safe to say that Major Lazer are getting more exposure than ever, which also makes this the perfect time to push out Peace Is The Mission.
From the first song on the album, it’s obvious how much the production quality of Major Lazer’s music has improved since Free The Universe. The album retains the dancehall sound of previous albums while also featuring a production style akin to Diplo’s side project with Skrillex, Jack Ü, though aside from Roll the Bass it captures the vibe of Jack Ü than taking on the high-speed build-ups and other Skrillex influences that the album featured. It’s undeniably still a completely Major Lazer-style album, though the updated production does help it fit better in the world of modern electronic music.
Too Original acts as a good indicator of the new style. The dancehall verses mixing with the more electronic drop shows a stronger mixture than their music had before, with vocalist Jovi Rockwell helping it stick to the tradition of featuring Jamaican artists on their songs. Light It Up works in a similar fashion, with electronic melodies playing over the Dancehall style beat, as a compliment more than a defining factor of the song, before leading into the drop and bringing in the air horn style synths to compliment the instrumental.
The album also features multiple songs with less of the dancehall influences in them. Perhaps the most notable is Lean On, the collaboration with DJ Snake and Danish singer MØ, which features deep echoing synths over its slow beat, retaining some of the Major Lazer feel but also sounding more like a top 40 single than they’ve ever had before; a fitting fact, as it’s also their most successful single. Powerful, a collaboration with Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley, also leans more on the pop side, with a throwback soul sound to it rather than the noticeable dancehall influence of other songs.
Aside from Lean On, the Ariana Grande collaboration All My Love from the Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack is the most pop-influenced song on the album. While the remix on Peace Is The Mission features Trinidadian singer Machel Montano, it otherwise sounds exactly the same as it did on the soundtrack; it feels even more like a general electronic pop track than Lean On does, which is further enhanced by Ariana Grande’s pop appeal.
But the appeal of the album is that the dancehall and pop elements mix together in a way that doesn’t feel divisive. All of the songs on the album work as individuals or as a group, and nothing really breaks the mood or brings its companion tracks down when compared to each other. At nine tracks in total, Peace Is The Mission aims for quality rather than quantity, and the approach definitely worked in its favour.