Thomas " Diplo” Pentz is keeping good company these days. Fresh off last year’s inclusion on the Lorde-curated “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" soundtrack, DJ-producer Pentz kicked off 2015 with a release from Jack Ü, his trap duo with Skrillex, and production credit on four tracks of the March-released Madonna album, “Rebel Heart.”
Not bad for a guy who just two years ago was calling for dancers to help him break the twerking world record.
But of all the various projects that involve Pentz, the longevity of Major Lazer is, perhaps, most surprising.
When co-founder Dave “Switch” Taylor left the electronic duo in 2011, two years after their dancehall-inspired debut, it seemed Major Lazer would be forever known as a one-off.
Yet in 2013, the group returned with a vengeance, both producing Snoop Lion’s reggae debut, “Reincarnated,” as well as dropping their sophomore effort, “Free The Universe.”
Featuring a disparate list of vocal contributors - from Bruno Mars and Tyga to Wyclef Jean and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig - “Universe” lived and died by its insistence to stick with the original dancehall game plan.
While the just-released “Peace Is the Mission” doesn’t abandon that vision, Major Lazer’s third album isn’t afraid to stray from it, either.
Album opener “Be Together,” featuring Chicago sibling duo Wild Belle, sets the tone with its slinky, mid-tempo groove. An intriguing and telling way to kick things off, there’s nary a dancehall element present.
The same goes for lead single and standout album track “Lean On.” Making the most of Danish singer MØ's brawny vocals and sharp production from DJ “Turn Down For What” Snake, the song finds that sweet spot at the intersection of pop and EDM.
Purists need not worry. There’s plenty of dancehall to be had, as well. Songs like “Too Original,” “Blaze Up The Fire,” and “Light It Up” are in line with the group’s best marriages of EDM and Jamaican styles.
And it’s no accident the album closes with a remix of “All My Love,” Major Lazer’s contribution to the “Hunger Games” soundtrack. Adding Trinidad soca singer Machel Montano’s energetic toasting to the already poppy Ariana Grande track expertly fuses the group’s juxtaposed worlds. Hopefully, it’s a bearer of things to come.
Diluting the mix isn’t always the best plan. But when it comes to Major Lazer, allowing just a few more ingredients in the recipe has made their whole concoction far tastier.