The chameleonic producer to the stars’ latest drills down into house music, and features everyone from Miguel and Seth Troxler to Jungle and Busta Rhymes
The notion of a self-titled Diplo album in 2022 is oddly humorous: the Florida-born producer has been such a stylistic chameleon (and relied so much on co-producers) for the past two decades that any collection of his tracks might as well be a compilation. The record, his first full-length ‘solo’ work of electronic music in 18 years, is focused on house music, in conjunction with his Mad Decent offshoot Higher Ground. It features roughly one good tune to every two mediocre ones.
Opener Don’t Forget My Love has a delightful summery vibe to it, replete with an earworm guitar melody and bouncy FM bass, and could surely be a substantial hit. Likewise, Promises assembles the same team that brought us 2020’s treacly Looking For Me with significantly better results, while Waiting For You contains a good steady build with lush synths.
The rest of the songs aren’t bad per se, although the hook on Make You Happy with WhoMadeWho is pretty cringeworthy – they’re just not that interesting. On My Mind pulls some neat sonic tricks out for the second drop, but one could hear at least four similar house remixes of R&B a cappellas at the local nightclub. Don’t Be Afraid aims for Tame Impala vibes and sadly misses, and Right 2 Left could have been a quality Mele track if more effort were put into it but is ultimately too minimal.
At times it might feel like a fool’s errand to expect more than this from someone who’s constantly hopping from trend to trend, but Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1 and David Guetta’s 7 were immensely enjoyable records, as were Major Lazer’s first few releases. Diplo has somewhat lost his way amongst co-credits and side-projects, but consistently good music isn’t beyond his abilities. Yet he would have to hunker down and show a degree of commitment, something that is lacking here.