As ephemeral as Caribbean snow

Ma­jor Lazer “Peace Is the Mission” (Mad De­cent) ★★

Los Angeles Times - - POP & HISS - — Randall Roberts Al­bums are rated on a scale of four stars (ex­cel­lent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor).

Af­ter en­dur­ing the dullest tracks on Ma­jor Lazer’s new al­bum, “Peace Is the Mission,” it’s some­times tough to re­mem­ber that there was a time when its founder, su­per­star pro­ducer Diplo, was awe­some.

As a ris­ing tastemaker in the early ’00s, the artist born Wes­ley Pentz made his name on the East Coast when his Hollertronix par­ties sound­tracked a buzzing New York mu­si­cal re­vival.

Be­fore Diplo moved to the main­stream with pro­duc­tion cred­its via Usher, Bey­oncé, Brit­ney Spears and oth­ers, his en­thu­si­asm for Brazil­ian beat-based fa

vela mu­sic helped spread the word about the re­mark­able sound be­ing forged in Rio de Janeiro. He also pro­duced M.I.A.’s blow-out de­but mix tape, “Piracy Funds Ter­ror­ism, Vol. 1.”

The third stu­dio al­bum from Ma­jor Lazer, Diplo’s project in­spired by Ja­maican dance­hall mu­sic, fea­tures a few hot tracks and a few so tepid we need re­minders about what made Diplo in­ter­est­ing in the first place. The best steer fur­thest away from com­mer­cial pop, but most seem de­signed for cheesy pool­side sum­mer an­them con­sump­tion.

Al­ready a mas­sive hit, “Lean On” fea­tures Dan­ish pop star MØ and “Turn Down for What” pro­ducer DJ Snake, and has about as much con­nec­tion to Ja­maican mu­sic as the Rus­sian na­tional an­them. “Pow­er­ful” rum­bles along­side vo­cal­ists El­lie Gould­ing and Tar­rus Ri­ley, but it’s as ephemeral as Caribbean snow. “I can feel it/When you hold me/ When you touch me/It’s so pow­er­ful.”

Yet there’s no deny­ing “Blaze Up the Fire,” a stut­ter­ing bass track fea­tur­ing the young Ja­maican rap­per Chronixx. High­lighted by that clas­sic Ja­maican down­beat rhythm and rum­bling bot­tom-end tones, it cel­e­brates — what else? — ganja. “Light It Up” ap­pears later, pre­sum­ably af­ter lis­ten­ers have smoked the Chronixxordered joint ear­lier in the record. Star­ring Nyla, best known as a mem­ber of the Ja­maican R&B group Brick & Lace, it’s a heavy dance­hall banger that would sound equally at home in Las Ve­gas or Kingston.

Mad De­cent

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