Friday, June 12, 2009
Album Review: Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D. (4.5 / 5)
With the Black Eyed Peas, the energy really never dies. Their latest, The E.N.D. an abbreviation for The Energy Never Dies, to dismiss thoughts of a misleading title, is essentially a huge step into the forthcoming age of electronica. I've been patiently awaiting the arrival of this album for a long time and now that it's finally here, I can say it's left me adequate impressed. Filled with great club-ready tracks, measured perfectly with some electronic mid-tempos and some futuristic slow numbers, although the album doesn't have any tracks you consider a ballad or a "Where Is the Love?" reminiscent — keeping the tempo nice and evened. Their last album, Monkey Business was a major commercial success, but didn't have as many credible songs as their debut (with Fergie) Elephunk which spawned the hits ("Shut Up," "Where Is the Love," and "Hey Mama").
So, kicking off the album is the track we all know and presumably love, "Boom Boom Pow" — this version begins with a haunting introduction to the album; a deep voice telling the listener: "the energy cannot be destroyed" — I can't say this has the effect that it should've had, I just wanted it to get into the song. Topping the U.S. singles chart for its ninth week now, "Pow" is BEPs best selling/charting song to date, and why shouldn't it be? it's a catchy, kinetically generated, futuristic cut — supported with a polished repetitive chorus. When I first heard it I wasn't too sure, but now I'm completely won over. Another song I wasn't too sure about, upon initial listens to the album was, "Imma Be" which somewhat takes the same direction as, "Pow" starting out a simple handclap and click venture, with Fergie taking the vocal lead, before Will.I.Am takes control when the songs picks up on its second half, when the synth, horn and violins kick in, aslo supported by a heavier bassline. The song ends in a 70s-ish disco fashion — except more electronic. I do like the track now, it's not as lazy as I initially thought it was.
"Rock That Body," is probably among the best song on the album (rivalling "Pow," and a couple others) It supports a slick, upbeat disco vibe — Think Will.I.Am's "Heartbreaker" expect more futuristic and more electronically compositioned. The songs killer chorus is sung by a squeaky voice, repeating: ("rock your body, c'mon rock your body") I presume it's Fergie with some some extreme tweaking bestowed on her voice. Another knockout is, "Meet Me Halfway," which seems to have proven itself among fans. It's a mellow, 80s influenced number — with Fergie taking the lead on the chorus, it sounds like a sequel to her 2007 hit, "Glamorous" with rapper, Ludacris. The current single, "I Gotta Feeling" I still like and could well be another hit for the group. It begins with some distorted strings pacing slowly throughout the first half of the song as Will.I.Am repeats: ("I gotta feelin', tonight's gonna be a good good night") before the song picks up dramatically on the song (kinda like "Imma Be") acquiring a more distinctive bassline.
As expected, this album does have its clunkers — luckily not that many. "Out Of My Head," starts out with a thumping bassline for about 8 seconds — which is really the best bit of the song, at least before Fergie begins her rant about... shoes, walking out the door, getting a drink and hitting the streets (interpret that how you will). The song is lacking in general, even the repetition in the chorus can't change its fate. "Ring-A-Ling," isn't a bad song, but it's pretty weak when compared to the other stuff on the album. It's combination of synth, kinetic handclaps and random electronic noises doesn't work on here, not as well as it works on some of the other tracks. "Rockin' To The Beat," (as advised by, "Pow") I don't like much either, but that's just a personal opinion — It's most likely a grower, It has a nice 70s disco theme to it, but I'm just not that into it.
"Alive," among my favorites. Starting out with a nice piano-based bassline — following swiftly a more electronic line. Some of Fergie's lines in the song throws a harsh reminiscent to 2007s hit, "My Humps." Now that I think about it, it also sounds like Tinchy Stryder's recent UK #1, "Number 1" with N-Dubz. The next track, "Missing You" is great. The animated handclaps at the beginning of the song really work — before it breaks into a Kid Cudi "Day 'n' Nite," style verse — then subsequently breaking back into a spacey vibe on the chorus, following is a collection of random electronic sounds.
"Party All the Time," is a brilliant piece of dance-pop, not really different from anything all other dance-pop styled stuff on the album, but brilliant nonetheless, I like the lyric ("If we call party all night, and sleep already and throw all my problems away, my life would be easy") one: because it's so true; two: because it makes for a catchy lyric. Admittedly the song does loose some grip towards its middle, as the more hip-hop elements are added in, but does draw the dance-pop back towards the end. Why does it sound like Fergie and Will are the only ones singing? the last time I checked there were two other members, or am I just mistaking the vocals? Fergie takes control on the eccentric, "Electric City" which pretty much sums up the album, putting a fake Jamaican accent, Fergie raps her way through the song — accompanied some very compelling electronic synth. Will joins in on the repetition of the title.
"Showdown," isn't anything special but its nonetheless a pretty good track. Very fast paced, supporting a thumping bassline — surprisingly not as electronic as the majority of the stuff on here. I know I made the point about the album lacking any remembrance to BEPs "Where Is the Love?," days, but "One Tribe," does come pretty close. Starting off with some angelic piano keys and melodic chantings of: "whoah-oh" before bursting into a nicely structured bongo drum and handclap configuration. It's not as good as "Love," but it does carry a very inspiring message. The title is bit of a give-away. I guess the lyrics make reference to the unity of Internet, in an attempt to keep the electronic factor.
The E.N.D. essentially has its downers ("Out of My Head," and "Ring-A-Ling") but it is a very good album, I couldn't have asked for more, except for the two tracks to be left off. Definitely modern, electro-pop at its best. When you compare this to BEPs first album Bridging the Gap, they've made quite the transformation — and very successful one, in my opinion.
Best: Boom Boom Pow, Rock That Body, Meet Me Halfway, Imma Be, Party All the Time, Alive, I Gotta Feeling