With its star-studded list of collaborators, it is little surprise that Major Lazer’s Free The Universe is has spawned eight singles, making it feel a lot like a greatest hits album.
Working with so many people has created a wonderful mix of styles within the album. Dub, ska and reggae feature heavily in Major Lazer’s sound using instruments such as steel drums and featuring many vocalists from the Caribbean including Shaggy, Wyclef Jean and Busy Signal. Diplo adds to this a bouncy, electro zapping, dancey sound which blends house, hip-hop, and dubstep.
Whilst I very much enjoyed shaking my ‘bubble-butt’ to Major Lazer at Sónar in Reykjavík last weekend, my personal highlights of the album are the slower tracks. Get Free, featuring a wonderful vocal performance from Amber Coffman, is a gentle grower with a Japanese sounding keyboard that shimmers between the verses and a catchy chorus. Jessica, featuring Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, is a lovely, slow song with classic ska bassline and simple lyrics that sounds like it’s come straight from 1960’s Jamaica.
Free The Universe is a consistently strong album packed with hits and great for a party or the headline slot at a hip, electronic festival in Iceland.