The Black Eyed Peas
Release Date: 06/09/2009
THE E.N.D. IS NEAR!
Photo Courtesy: Interscope Records
Written By: Dashiell Arkenstone
The new release from the hip-hop troop turned pop-sensation THE BLACK EYED PEAS might harbor acclaim from its target audience, but while it may satisfy the throng intended, the album hardly fits the standards of any actual music lover. It opens with a deep, manipulated voice--the kind you'd here at a monster truck rally--spitting some profound spoken word that tells us: "Everything around you is changing." Well, he couldn't possibly be referring to the effect of this album, as it offers nothing that hasn't been done before.
The album opener "Boom Boom Pow" does not at all hold to its title. It's less a "Boom Boom" then a "tap tap" --a very weak and boring launch. The next track is undeniably catchy, but poses a problem that becomes a common theme throughout the record: solid dance pulses that are continuously chopped and littered with layers upon layers of artificial vocals. This record is polluted with so much auto-tune and vocoder that the integrity and individuality of the performers is lost and replaced with a pedestrian and stationary sound that falls short of having any utilitarian attributes--even for these times. The vocals aren't allowed a moment to breathe without being pummeled with effects or somehow doctored, falsifying their humanity and molding them into the industry standard "talent: optional" garbage that we've heard over and over again--because somehow, that's what tops the charts.
"Meet Me Halfway" is a more straightforward and therefore tolerable approach to a good pop song. Unfortunately, the Peas couldn't resist a bridge with a spliced and severed vocal pattern, though its presence could be overlooked if the rest of the album wasn't infested with it. When we get to "Imma Be," we're happy to hear a familiar BEP hip-hop track again and another theme is introduced: ceaselessly repeating the song title in almost every song. We also realize how the songs seamlessly fit into one another. These transitions definitely help the pursuit of this album, as without them, it would be quite an undertaking.
Let's jump to the track "Out of My head:"
Fergie: "You see these feet? Ima hit the street! Yeah, I'll be walkin'!... Ima hit the bar, get some vodka, some red bull...When I see a boy, Ima say "wassup"... Whyncha come with me? We goin live it up! We steppin' out! Hode up, hode up--how da bridge go? I think I drank too much! Wait, I think I know it--here we go!"
Interesting words from a spelling bee champion. The gods only know how she lets herself get away with her ghetto-speak, which gets harder and harder to stomach as the album progresses.
The proposed anthem "Now Generation" takes a more traditional approach to songwriting with the use of real instruments! Or at least it seems so. But by this time, with a song relying so heavily on vocal accompaniment so late in the record, that auto-tuner is tragically missed. Speaking of which, the track "Missing You" is almost dynamic enough to remember, but the constant repetition of the words "missing you" will make you want to vomit; too bad, it's a good song.
The lyrics are dreadfully unimaginative, something that the studio magic couldn't help, leaving us with hooks like "Ring-a-linga-ling-ling...dinga-linga-ling-ling...hello-hello...ring-a ling-linga-ling...ding" --you get the idea, and as far as this whole electo-retro-futurism style is concerned, well, I hope they're wrong.
BEP claims that "Energy Never Dies," but apparently music does, and they're okay with that.
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