Release Date: Jul 27, 2010
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Electronic, Reggae, Dancehall, Club/Dance, Ragga
At first glance, Major Lazer’s Lazers Never Die EP seems like little more than a guileless marketing ploy. With the flat-out brilliant single “Sound of Siren” having made the blog rounds over the past several months, but without a proper new album on the horizon to support it, it seems like an easy out simply to repackage that single with remixes of a few songs from Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do. That the EP arrives on the heels of a mixtape with the red-hot pop duo La Roux—a mixtape that, it’s worth mentioning, is awfully good in its own right—only heightens the impression that Major Lazer might be at risk of oversaturating the market with secondhand material.
If there's one complaint you can lobby against Lazers Never Die-- the new EP from Diplo and Switch's global party project Major Lazer-- is that we're only now getting our hands on it, a month or so into summer. A minor qualm, but it's a shame to think about how many Fourth of July barbecues could've benefitted from this batch of originals and reinterpretations from the duo's hybridized dancehall debut, Guns Don't Kill People-- Lazers Do. To paraphrase Scott Plagenhoef's review of that album last year, this is clearly music that works best in the heat, but it still has the dexterity to stick around once the flip-flops have been tucked away.
Call it a superficial gimmick if you want, but I happen to believe that Damon Albarn’s decision to man his much-beloved Gorillaz with cartoon characters was a savvy artistic decision. His format relies on the amalgamation of well-known talent (Danger Mouse, Snoop Dogg) as much as of eclectic pop textures, so without some sort of strong identity to bring it all together, the contributors’ force of personality is bound to mutiny the whole thing. I mean, was Wings ever NOT that group Paul was in after the Beatles? Anyway, the benefit of pretending that cartoons were behind Gorillaz’ music is that nothing of their sound would seem inconsistent, the same way we accept that Wile E.
The first sign that this Jamaican zombie killer alter ego wasn't just a one-off, the Lazers Never Die EP finds DJ/producers Diplo and Switch reviving their dancehall-meets-electro Major Lazer character with two new tracks and three remixes. First of the new is the massive “Song of Siren,” a ground-shaking team-up between Tamil tiger M.I.A. and gruff dancehall don Busy Signal, who dominates the track with lyrics that exorcize crooked cops from the ghetto.
Following Major Lazer's debut full-length is the Lazers Never Die EP. Featuring only two new tracks, "Sound Of Siren" and "Good Enough," these original productions indicate a move to a more dancehall direction for the duo of Diplo and Switch. The dirtier and more obnoxious of the two tracks, "Sound Of Siren" utilizes special guest M.I.A.'s abilities to their fullest, making it infinitely danceable.