One could be forgiven for first setting eyes on Mississippi native Thomas Wesley Pentz (aka producer Diplo and overlord of dancehall juggernaut Major Lazer) and thinking to themselves “Wow, that’s gotta be one of the least Jamaican lookin’ dudes I’ve seen all day!” But don’t be so hasty in letting his bleary-eyed Neil Patrick Harris façade deceive you. Since first blowing up back in 2009, his rude-bwoi-cum-Isaac-Newton approach towards tripped out booty shaking (read: What goes up…) has been pretty much flawless. Major Lazer return all windin’ and grindin’ after mashing up Australia’s Big Day Out last month with their 7th EP – and second outing with a little help from Indiana indie label Secretly Canadian – Apocalypse Soon.
Arriving just under 10 months after sophomore album Free The Universe, this 5-track collection kicks off with minimalist up-tempo track Aerosol Can. Even though the man affectionately known as “Skateboard-P” has been kicking around as both a Neptune and celebrated solo artist for well over a decade now, it seems that any release nowadays bearing the suffix “Feat. Pharrell Williams” is destined to be bigger than his now infamous Dudley-Do-Right hat from the Grammys (Nothing “Secretly Canadian” about a sweet lid like that!). It’s a really sparse, measured affair that sees Diplo’s world-class production take a backseat to Pharrell’s fire-hydrant rhymes. Does it share the instant infectiousness of Blurred Lines or Get Lucky? Not in the least but considering Mr. Williams’ track record, it seems the kids want as much Pharrell as he’s willing to give them and you just can’t imagine Diplo complaining.
Come To Me Flute sails into more familiar waters for fans of previous Major Lazer releases with its world-instrument sampling, hazy-brass swagger with some unmistakable toasty flow from early-2000s reggaeton superstar Sean Paul. And lest we forget the centerpiece of anything with dub in the genre: “The drop”, utilized several times to great effect here.
The ukulele and marimba that herald the start of third track Sound Bang sound like something your uptight high-school chemistry teacher might pop on when twisting his delightfully cheeky holiday phatty. 30 seconds in however, it becomes apparent that the detention student he so shiftily met behind the bike sheds has laced it with something Walter White couldn’t even concoct. The resulting sound is akin to some sort of dystopian racing game for the new PS4 bought by that same burnout with his ill-gotten funds.
Track 4, Lose Yourself is a pretty standard outing for Diplo, employing his trademark new/old school banger dichotomy with undoubtedly danceable but largely forgettable results whereas closer Dale Asi, is pretty much a super-stoned lighter waving head-bobber. Almost entirely in Spanish with an already dated Candy Crush reference buried in the first verse, it’s still a pretty deep groove and a decent enough way to finish the set.
The format of the EP seems to be one of the necessary evils in today’s climate of needing a “steady stream of content” to keep one’s twitter followers sated. The fact that this is his seventh shows Diplo’s finger is well and truly on the pulse in terms of keeping his profile up. However like a lot of EPs, Apocalypse Now feels somewhat like a fun-size Mars bar – Exactly what you felt like but only half of it and by the time it’s done, you just wish you had a proper one instead.