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
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
25 years of Disney: How Darth Vader, Iron Man, Elsa and Pixar's geniuses helped the company conquer the world (again)
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account