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
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.