The Black Eyed Peas ventures into techno territory with ‘The E.N.D.’
"The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies)"
The Black Eyed Peas
Everything around you is changing. The energy never dies.
After the solo successes of Fergie and Will.i.am, did anyone ever expect another album from The Black Eyed Peas? Doing their best to convince audiences they are still true to the band, they release their fifth album this month, "The E.N.D." But while the CD’s futuristic packaging and liner notes seem to hint at the Peas moving musically forward, the usually original quartet ends up coming off as derivative.
Producer Will.i.am, clearly enjoyed the marriage of Kanye and Daft Punk, as the Peas venture into dance-y electro-hip-hop from beginning to end. Reading the names of tracks aloud — "Rock That Body," "Electric City," "Rockin to the Beat" — had me thinking I was about to listen to Technotronic’s latest. The album plays with high quality production using delicious dance beats and crystal clear vocal tracks, but it doesn’t give much more substance wise.
This is where the album surprisingly succeeds. "The E.N.D." plays like a dance party album found in the "various" section of CD stores (you remember CD stores, don’t you?). Throw this disc in at your next house party on repeat and you would be set with the perfect vibe for the night.
The Peas can create irresistible dance tunes like "Party all the Time," anthemic in its avowal of having a good time. Fergie sings ridiculous lyrics like "Party all night and sleep all day / and throw all of my problems away / my life would be easy," but the song works enough to imagine myself on the dance floor instead of the computer screen.
While those first dozen songs provided some great head thumping times, it’s not until track 13 that I regained interest in the album. The Peas may have written the perfect theme song for this Hulu-Twitter-Facebook culture. "Now Generation" finally offers lyrics to prick up your ears to. They rap and sing effectively about society’s evolution into an instant gratification nation.
They attempt another social message tune with the subsequent "One Tribe" which preaches to "let’s cast amnesia / forget about all that evil." Yes, it’s supposed to rhyme. The song has its heart in the right place but seems a little forced when we’ve just been told to party for the last 45 minutes.
The problem with "The E.N.D." is its inability to be smart — the same problem with most pop music today. Will.i.am has proven to be quite the innovator on his solo albums and even previous Peas releases but here he has produced, or perhaps birthed, the 2009 stepchild of ’90s dance music (Hadaway, Real McCoy and, yes, Technotronic) and last year’s "808’s and Heartbreak" by Kanye West. The album plays with a whole lot of style but not much else.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 19, 2009.