Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do (Downtown Records)

A dancehall record with a sense of identity is tough to come by -- in practice, the songs will rarely be played sequentially; they'll haunt mix tapes and DJ sets, each standing on its own. Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do is best approached with this in mind. This first full-length project from super-producers Diplo and Switch (best known as collaborators for M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes") is offered under the pseudonymic persona of Major Lazer. A few trademarks come back again and again to ground the wildly diverse material of the album -- as in "Paper Planes," strategic use of sound effects (cell phones, cash registers, glass breaking and, of course, a laser gun) drive most of Guns Don't Kill People's songs. Occasionally, this assertion that anything can be musical is accompanied by a genius sense of humor -- the penultimate song features an AutoTuned version of a baby crying, which starts to sound good enough to make you think twice about T-Pain. An all-star cast of collaborators -- dancehall stars like Vybz Kartel, plus Santigold and Nina Sky for crossover appeal -- ensure the album never starts to sound repetitive; it's just hard for Major Lazer to craft its own identity when it's so dependent on sampling others'.

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