FAR EAST MOVEMENT are the latest act trying to usurp The Black Eyed Peas’ mantle as the monarchs of electro-heavy hedonism.
The Asian-American rap group had their breakthrough hit with last year’s simile-laden Like A G6, whose sparse instrumental contrasts with a never-ending barrage of vocal effects. Guest vocalist Dev is the highlight of an otherwise uninspiring effort, opting for a computerised purr instead of rapping.
Fighting for Air centres itself around the almighty “You take my breath away” cliché, helpfully adding “from me” just so we know British singer Frankmusic’s breath isn’t being taken from anyone else. It’s a dull and insincere love song, without the redemption of a muscular melody to paper over its bland lyrics (see: No Air by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown).
2gether exemplifies the LA four-piece’s chief strength and fatal flaw. The production is typically immaculate, splicing a sample of Love Shack by The B-52s with screechy, Usain Bolt-speed keyboards.
Again however, it’s a lyrical paper tiger.
Party music doesn’t have to be clever – if anything it’s best to suppress any intellectual aspirations in favour of brainless abandon.
But the whole album plays as though rappers Kev Nish, J-Spliff and Prohgress have forgotten to write their parts, then been shoved into the recording booth by an impatient label exec.
Suck on this claptrap: “Yo/This is club is goin’ crazy/You’ve got me goin’ crazy/This DJ’s goin’ crazy/And now I’m elevated/We havin’ fun in here/So hands up in the air/We havin’ fun in here/So get your hands up in the air.”
Among Free Wired’s heftier cuts is the propulsive White Flag featuring Kayla Kai – which implements a synth riff somewhere between Calvin Harris and Gorillaz. Girls on the Dancefloor, co-written by the industry’s newest golden boy Bruno Mars, is one of the few efforts which sounds as much fun as the group insist they’re having.
Mars and his production group The Smeezingtons help out chief album producers Stereotypes for a handful of tracks, to create a six-man dial-twiddling leviathan behind the desk.
With Mars and one of America’s most prominent modern songwriters on board in One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, it’s no surprise that Rocketeer is a cut above the rest of the 10-song disc.
Dreamy yet concise, it recalls Pharell’s work on the Despicable Me soundtrack in 2010. Snoop Dogg collaboration If I Was You (OMG) is also happily jabby in the making, helping the song land on its feet albeit with a wobble.
While two-thirds of Free Wired defines the phrase ‘album filler’, the record’s cutting-edge production and smattering of thought-through tunes help save it from total creative poverty.
Choice picks: Like a G6, Rocketeer
WITH KANYE WEST and Jay-Z limbering up to release collaboration album Watch the Throne this year, the longtime colleagues have released taster H.A.M.
First things first: we’re not explaining the acronym. It’s rude, so listen to the song if you want to find out its meaning. As for the song itself, it’s unsurprisingly surprising. While every other rap act tries to lunge into the future with robotic vocals, space age sounds and Auto-Tune, Jay and Kanye are carving out a new path.
So while H.A.M. at first sits on a familiar staccato bleep, not dissimilar to the Knight Rider soundtrack, it quickly takes a creepy turn towards The Omen, finishing with 70 seconds of classical warbling over a piano.
The rhymes themselves are neither rapper’s finest. West, coming off the triumphant My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, alternates between cussing and boasting, neither particularly effective. Jay wins this round for his flight of fancy lyrics. Like a hip-hop Bowie, he riffs on swimming with great white sharks, facing down moving vehicles and even manages to incorporate a little French into proceedings.
H.A.M. is a solid if unspectacular introduction to Watch the Throne. Here’s hoping the rest of the album turns Jay and Kanye’s chemistry to alchemy.
RATING: 6.5 out of 10
SHORT ON SUBSTANCE, My Chemical Romance’s latest offering from fourth album Danger Days is an unlikeable affair.
For a band heavily into its pompous embellishments, Sing is not only unadventurous – it’s downright middle of the road. It might have scraped B-side status in years gone by, but this compose-by-numbers affair could never be single-worthy.
Romance isn’t dead, but this effort is painfully stagnant.
RATING: 2 out of 10
1. BRUNO MARS
2. JESSIE J
Do It Like A Dude
3. RIHANNA FT. DRAKE
What’s My Name
4. KATY B FT. MISS DYNAMITE
5. MATT CARDLE
When We Collide
6. DAVID GUETTA FT. RIHANNA
Who’s That Chick
Make You Feel My Love
8. BLACK EYED PEAS
The Time (Dirty Bit)
9. FAR EAST MOVEMENTS FT. CATARACS & DEV
Like A G6
Eyes Wide Shut
2. PLAN B
The Defamation of Strickland Banks
3. CEE LO GREEN
The Lady Killer
Seasons of My Soul
5. MUMFORD & SONS
Sigh No More
7. ELLIE GOULDING
8. TINIE TEMPAH
9. ELIZA DOOLITTLE
10. TAKE THAT
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