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Major Lazer, Guns Don''t Kill People...Lazers Do (Downtown)

June 11, 2009
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Unconventionally trekking through Jamaica
Major Lazer is not only an imaginary, evil-conquering Rasta superhero, but it''s also Diplo and Switch''s excuse to experiment with all angles of Jamaican music. Recorded at the Legendary Tuff Gong studios among other spots in Jamaica, Guns Don''t Kill People...Lazers Do sees the pair of producers—most recognized for their work with M.I.A.—go all out in crafting these oft-pulsing West Indies-inspired tracks.

Culling their collective experience and aid from a variety of Jamaican and American vocalists (Mr. Vegas, Santigold, Busy Signal, Amanda Blank), this duo makes an album that reaches forward while also respectfully taking heed to tradition. While supercatchy, the Auto-Tune-tinged dance-pop single “Keep It Goin'' Louder” with Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze is the lone track that doesn''t bring much original to the equation. Not that Diplo and Switch always have to BREAK massive ground, but a song like “Anything Goes,” featuring Turbulence, is a choice sample of how they can capture classic dancehall and still infuse a bit of their own future-leaning use of synths and sound effects. Elsewhere, the floor-shaking house-heavy sound of “Jump Up” is the type of retro-meets-modern jam that loses no progressiveness in its accessibility. Not leaving any corners of Jamaican sonics ignored, Major Lazer makes a direct hit. [4 out of 5 stars]

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