Album: Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning (Interscope/Polydor)
Friday 26 November 2010
Having expressed his disgruntlement, on last year's The E.N.D., that "there is no album anymore" when "you can put 12 songs on iTunes and people can pick at it like scabs", Black Eyed Peas mainman will.i.am wheels out his favoured rescue strategy with The Beginning, on which all the tracks are seamlessly segued into one long flow.
Try picking them apart, and you'll lose the smooth intros; played as it's intended, however, this surely comprises the party album of the year, one you're probably going to become thoroughly familiar with over the festive season.
Current single "The Time (Dirty Bit)" gets the party started, the familiar Dirty Dancing refrain intro giving way to a woozy, pitch-shifting synth groove, with will and Fergie having the time of their lives "getting freaky for you baby". It's a textbook blend of the over-familiar and the electronically treated, though their use of auto-tune and digital-stutter vocal effects is a touch more restrained than usual. From there on, the aspect never extends beyond the dancefloor, with martial synth-stomp riffs, spartan electro beats and loping bass grooves driving tracks whose single-mindedness is signalled by titles like "Don't Stop the Party" and "Do It Like This". The philosophy, if one could thus dignify it, is best summed up on "Play It Loud": "I pledge my allegiance to rhythm and sound/ Music is my medicine/ Let the rhythm pound". Though, ironically, behind this alleged affinity for the brusquely physical, this closing track features the most poignant, soulful melody on the entire album, with something of a Radiohead quality about it.
Throughout the album, the subservience – and in some cases, transformation – of human to machine continues apace on tracks such as "Love You Long Time" and "XOXOXO". Set to a stammering synth groove, the latter reflects modern love as something essentially mediated by machines and screens, as if the verifiable status of phone-texted or emailed expressions of love were somehow more "real" than personal expressions – rather in the manner of those gig-goers who hoist their videophones aloft as soon as the act comes onstage, and spend the entire show staring at the tiny two-inch LCD image of the performance, rather than the actual show happening right in front of them.
On "Love You Long Time", the classic hooker's cliche is batted back and forth between boy and girl voices, both auto-tuned into perverse cartoons of desire and sexual longing, with the effect that when the male voice finally offers a verse untreated, it has an emotional honesty of vastly increased potency. Elsewhere, other highlights include "Just Can't Get Enough" – not the Depeche Mode song – which vaults suddenly from the rare dignity of string-synth textures to a sweatily pumping techno finale; and "Fashion Beats", which applies the reliable propulsion of a Chic-style groove to a bout of Franglais voguing.
DOWNLOAD THIS The Time (Dirty Bit); Play It Loud; Fashion Beats; Love You Long Time
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
Pottermore: JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story featuring 'greying' 33-year-old wizard
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt stars in visceral and brutally ugly drama that reminds us war is hell
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts