They got it started and asked where the love is. They told us to get love drunk off their humps. They promised tonight would be a good night.
And now the Black Eyed Peas are going to show us the time of our lives all over again with their new studio album “The Beginning.”
“The Beginning” largely picks up where its predecessor “The E.N.D.” left off in 2009: with hot party jams and boom boom pow. In “The Beginning,” the Peas flaunt their stylistic flexibility and give themselves over more fully than ever to the groove palette of club culture, stirring up electro funk, Euro-trance and classic disco.
The prime example is the album’s lead single “The Time (Dirty Bit).” A throwback to the ’80s anthem “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the song has an infectious dance-pop beat that’s sure to become a staple of iPods, parties, bars, basketball games and everything else capable of producing sound by next semester.
But in surrendering to the beat, the Peas set aside their political soapbox. While “The E.N.D.” presented a medley of political sermons about hope, change and the power of the “now generation,” “The Beginning” seems to switch its support from people coming together to people coming together on the dance floor, with will.i.am Auto-chanting lyrics like, “I’ll pledge my allegiance to rhythm and sound,” and “John Lennon and Bob Marley are my presidents.”
Though it’s hard not to head bop and sing along to this 12-track album, it’s also hard not to ignore its shortcomings.
For one thing, the amount of Auto-Tune in these tracks is bordering on ridiculous. The Peas’ employment of Auto-Tune on will.i.am’s vocals on the chest-thumping, guitar-speckled club power-ballad “Someday,” puts actual robots to shame, and the pitch correction does unnecessary damage to Fergie’s vocals on the poppy acoustic love song “Whenever,” destroying what should have been a showcase song for the singer.
For another, the rhymes are disappointingly simplistic and often make little sense. “Don’t Stop the Party,” for example, offers the confusing verse, “Get up off my genitals/I’ll stay on that pinnacle/Chewin’ up my lyricals/Call me verbal criminal.” Sorry, will.i.am, but your “lyricals” kind of deserve it.
There’s something about the Peas, though, that lets you find the absurdly good within the absurdly bad. When they hit the right note of airhead, air-punching majesty, as they do with the “I Gotta Feeling”-esque “Play It Loud,” the good can be kind of inescapable. It’s that quality that makes “The Beginning” a success.
People don’t blast the Peas on the speakers to hear vocal range, poetic lyrics or rhythmic variation. They listen to the Peas because the Peas know how to party.
Despite its flaws, “The Beginning” offers exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Black Eyed Peas: a new set of dance jams that will have you starting to fall in love with them all over again.