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Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business

Review: Jack Foley

MULTI-platinum Grammy Award winners, The Black Eyed Peas, look to follow-up the phenomenal success of 2003's Elephunk with Monkey Business, another lively collection of fat beats, Latin rhythms, hip-hop flavours and exciting collaborations.

And for the most part, it succeeds in eclipsing the quality of their breakthrough record, featuring some brilliant tracks that should provide a perfect accompaniment to the long summer months.

Kicking off with the upbeat Pump It, which features a funky BEP rhythm that unfolds against a sample of Dick Dale's Miserlou (from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction soundtrack), the album proceeds to deliver a madcap musical journey that mixes the funkiest sound of the mainstream with something a little more eclectic on the side.

Take the first single, Don’t Phunk With My Heart, for instance, which blends hip-hop beats with the sound of Bollywood to effortlessly flamboyant effect.

Or the strings-laden Don't Lie, a lush summer anthem packed with shimmering acoustic guitars, feel-good beats and a nice male-female vocal trade-off.

Both are examples of how the Black Eyed Peas aren't content to merely pander to the mainstream vibe, preferring instead to create their own distinct sound.

The collaborations work well, too. Justin Timberlake is almost obligatory, given the success he brought them with Where Is The Love?

This time around, the partnership yields My Style, an altogether funkier dance-floor anthem that contains a dirty, grinding bassline, some sultry female vocals and heaps and heaps of attitude.

Better still, however, are the collaborations with Jack Johnson and James Brown.

The latter appears on the track, They Don't Want Music, which contains all the Motown nods you'd expect, complete with trumpets galore, an ass-grinding rhythm and Mr Brown himself in vocally blistering form (think I Feel Good intensity).

Johnson's collaboration is an altogether different affair, however, a sun-drenched piece of feel-good pop that practically invites you to sit back and get down with it, especially when Johnson's sublime vocals kick in.

It's a collaboration to rival his work with the Handsome Boy Modelling School (who incorporated his Breakdown into their own inimitable style).

Sting even crops up on one of the final tracks, Union, which blatantly samples his Englishman in New York, but it still works, easing you gently into a mellow mood.

Elsewhere, there's still plenty to rave about, even if not every track hits the spot.

Some, like Disco Club and Ba Bump, sound a little bland and repetitive, but they are thankfully few and far between on a 17-track, 75-minute long-player.

Skip over some of the album fillers and there's always another track like the soul-laden Like That and the retro-laden Feel It waiting to pick you up again.

All of which guarantees that Monkey Business will have you swinging to its funky rhythms all summer long.

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Track listing:
1. Pump It
2. Don't Phunk With My Heart
3. My Style-Feat. Justin Timberlake
4. Don't Lie
5. My Humps
6. Like That
7. Dum Diddley
8. Feel It
9. Gone Going Gone-Feat. Jack Johnson
10. They Don't Want Music-Feat. James Brown
11. Disco Club
12. Bebot
13. Bump Da Bump
14. Audio Delite
15. Union-Feat. Sting
16. Do What You Want [UK Bonus Track]
17. If You Want Love [UK Bonus Track]

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