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Diplo - Diplo Music Album Reviews

Diplo - Diplo Music Album Reviews
Having recently gone through his country, psychedelic pop, and even ambient phases, the omnivorous EDM DJ turns his attention to house music on his first solo full-length in 18 years.

Diplo has long branded himself as an agitator-entrepreneur, mining underground sounds to shake up for young, thump-thirsty ears. The ubiquitous producer makes no apologies for his chameleonic, appropriative approach. “Culture is meant to be fused,” he told The New Yorker. “It’s complicated, but I don’t fucking care.”
 

But what happens when the shake-up itself begins to feel stale? When fans want more than kitchen-sink collaborations and cross-cultural mash-ups? After a string of recent genre-jumping projects failed to leave a mark (his country, psychedelic pop, and ambient swings all felt half-hearted and formulaic, more like kitschy clickbait than genuine self-expression), it was time for Diplo to remind us why we started listening to him in the first place.

With his self-titled album–billed as the artist’s first solo electronic LP since 2004’s Florida–he returns to what he has said is his first love: house music. It should have been a slam dunk—glossy, commercial variations on the Chicago sound are dominating mainstream dance music, and Diplo is one of the few surviving EDM overlords who still has a full calendar of DJ gigs. (Say what you want about his catalog, the man knows how to rev up a room.) But Diplo is surprisingly low on innovation, adventure, and emotion. It feels less like a triumphal homecoming and more like another tourist trap. Lately, no matter where Diplo goes, it feels like he’s visiting.

The album is billed as “underground,” but don’t be fooled, bro; these are big names (Miguel, Leon Bridges, Lil Yachty) plugged into comfy frameworks geared toward casual listeners—most of the tracks hover in the FM sweet spot of three and a half minutes. Even Diplo admits he wasn’t diving very deep. “I made a bunch of pop songs and then dressed them up as dance records,” he told Billboard. “If you aren’t familiar with dance music, you can learn it [on this record] because I literally have everything on there for you.” Dance pop has evolved considerably in the last few years, with melodic deep house replacing EDM as the flashy, crossover sound. But Diplo, largely devoid of new ideas, feels disappointingly trendy, favoring quick-hit interpretations of whatever is selling right now. We should expect more from a producer of his stature, especially on his own genre turf. With Florida, he offered listeners a peek into a few deep, peculiar corners of underground music. Here, he piles everyone into the party bus and drives it to Times Square.

Because Diplo doesn’t think dance albums “work conceptually,” he approached this project like a mixtape or something you’d hear out at a club. But these sleek, polished cuts lack the spontaneous energy of a sweaty dancefloor. Instead, they unfold with eerie detachment, like a “House Party!” playlist left on shuffle. For an artist who thrives on perpetual reinvention, Diplo relies heavily on recycled concepts and safe, accessible arrangements. “Promises,” one of the album’s three Kareen Lomax team-ups, capitalizes on the success of 2021’s “Looking for Me” by once again laying her Tracy Chapman-esque vocals over lush, mid-tempo piano house. The Damian Lazarus/Jungle collaboration “Don’t Be Afraid” somehow doesn’t sound like either of them, and could instead be cut and pasted from emo-house duo Bob Moses. And “One by One,” a joint effort with Elderbook and the German duo Andhim, is a cocktail of mainstream dance-pop trends all swirled together: gooey beats, vaguely spiritual synths, and washed-out vocals that recall the easy breeziness of tropical house. Even the Lil Yachty collaboration “Humble” sounds generic and overeager, with beats that bump so hard they drown out everything except for the flicker of Auto-Tune.

Diplo has always drawn inspiration from his travels, and a few of these songs were sparked by recent trips to Burning Man and its sandy sister, Tulum, where the thump of dense, dusty tech-house is as ceaseless as the ocean waves. But neither scene is known for particularly mind-blowing music (ketamine, perhaps), and those predictable, melodramatic soundscapes creep onto this LP. He channels some of his transcendent experiences on wistful tracks like “Your Eyes” and “Make You Happy,” but outside the context of a sunrise bender, they feel vacant. If there is one consistent error Diplo makes throughout this record, it’s not putting more human emotion into the fold. If house is a feeling, it needs to be alive.

There are a few wins. The immersive progressive house track “Forget About Me (Nite Version),” co-produced with Durante and Aluna, achieves real feelings of suspense and release, the lone glimpse at rave music in an otherwise lighthearted LP. The bouncing blockbuster “On My Mind,” an almost cartoonish tribute to ’90s R&B-house, is genius in its sampling of “Steelo” by the girl group 702; when paired with Jocelyn Brown’s climbing “ooh-ooh-ahh-ahh,” it’s the sort of massive deep-house banger that can change the temperature of a party in an instant.

But the track that gets closest to house music’s sensual, kinetic core is the tantalizing Seth Troxler team-up “Waiting For You (feat. Desire).” A tunnel of prickly synths, high-pitched coos, and shuffling rhythms designed to glue your feet to the dancefloor, it’s the only song that carries real, physical tension. When her breathy soprano morphs into a pleading whisper (“I’m sick, I’m sick/Lock the door, bury the key”), the only thing to do is close your eyes and surrender. It’s too bad the rest of the LP doesn’t concern itself more with the unspoken intimacy of the club experience, or with house music as a vehicle for human connection. Rather than nourish that friction and vulnerability, these songs feel passionless and removed—full of sparkle but missing anything like a soul.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Diplo - Diplo Music Album Reviews Diplo - Diplo Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, March 17, 2022 Rating: 5

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