Album Reviews

Major Lazer – Gunz Dont Kill People, Lazers Do

(Downtown) UK release date: 6 July 2009


Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do“Major Lazer is a Jamaican commando who lost his arm in the secret Zombie War of 1984. The US military rescued him and repurposed experimental lazers as prosthetic limbs. Since then Major Lazer has been a hired renegade soldier for a rogue government operating in secrecy underneath the watch of MI5 and the CIA.”

Got that? It’s part of the press release for this adventurous project in dancehall, a project between the two highly rated producers Diplo and Switch (the team behind M.I.A.‘s Paper Planes), and a gaggle of guest vocalists.

It sounds like nothing you’ll have heard before, a technicolour carnival of styles that blurs genre boundaries in the name of having a good time. And while you could describe it as a dancehall record, there are things here that will satisfy all who like a good party, with bags of rhythm and a thumbed nose in the direction of convention.

Major Lazer’s biggest coup is to secure the services of some big dancehall names as the guests. Mr Vegas brings his distinctive vocals to the cool ska of Can’t Stop Now, also featuring Jovi Rockwell, while T.O.K. and Ms. Thing team up to good effect on the brash Bruk Out. When You Hear The Bassline, meanwhile, is a cracker, Ms. Thing’s voice fed through the effects processor above an athletic, woofer-bothering lower end.

If there’s one sound to remember Major Lazer by, mind, it’s the klaxon. Mary Jane is the song you want, a bootylicious beat, sirens, that klaxon and rolling drums all combining to make an irresistible slice of party, recognisably the work of Diplo but with so much else thrown in besides.

If anything it sounds like a cross between Basement Jaxx and Gorillaz, but stops short of overcomplicating itself. When more blissed out moments appear, as they do from time to time, there is purely contented summer music to enjoy in the likes of Cash Flow.

The technicolour project has elements of Two Culture Clash, Wall of Sound’s experiment in an electro-dancehall interfacing of five years ago, but hangs together a lot better and gives out more good time vibes. It’s to Diplo and Switch’s enormous credit that the style is fully authentic, the party in full swing the whole way through.


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