Reviewed by Anders Seefeldt and Neal Rahman
In the intro for the new album, Skrillex and Diplo say they have a "new prescription" so powerful that it can replace drugs. “Shoot up a little bit of Jack U in your butt," Diplo suggests.
When Diplo and Skrillex hopped on stage at Madison Square Garden on New Years’ Eve, it felt like a proclamation: 2015 will be their dynastic year.
Their lead single “Take Ü There” also seemed to support the claim that these guys were about to throw a wrench in EDM with their combo of wubbing a twerking. "You show me, there's something more to us than the same old thing, no usual affair" Kiesza sings. And to that effect, nobody quite knew how to react to the drop. So how would they react to an entire album of something so different?
From the onset of the project, Diplo and Skrillex have had global pop-culture ambitions for the new project. Skrillex enlisted K-pop stars G-Dragon and CL for “Dirty Vibes" back on Recess last year, Diplo has produced songs for Madonna while his Twitter handle seems to change on a weekly basis to reflect his new celebrity spat, and now they're following fellow superstar Beyoncé by getting in on the surprise album craze. Did we mention Justin Bieber is on the album?
Look how serious they are.
It was almost as if Jack U were gathering all of pop culture into one big party balloon and holding the needle to make it explode. But listening to the album, it becomes clear that they have no intention on popping it.
It's not that the album sounds like mainstream EDM - it doesn't - it's just that it all sounds too similar. Every track is built from warped vocal samples (Skrillex) and thumping funk (Diplo). We’ve listened to the album twice and can’t really differentiate any tracks in hindsight other than a couple.
“Jungle Bae” throws back that old fashioned moombahton, featuring Caribbean soca superstar Bunji Garlin repping Diplo’s many years producing in Jamaica, and “Holla” works in with that metallica dubstep, a throwback to the 2010 Skrillex craze.
Jack U's “new prescription” seems to be part of some weird pop party rather than a statement against it. But while we sat and pondered our mild disappointment, we noticed something. We were bobbing our heads and having a blast. Editing videos of llamas to the Justin Bieber track, to which one of our editors remarked was his "web redemption.”
The new Jack Ü album is a weird pop culture party having too much fun to take it's powers too seriously. So what? It parties better than almost anything else out there, and that's more in line with Taylor Spliff and Skrilly’s flippant personas anyhow. And if this is the direction that commercial electronic music is going… you know what? We’ll take that shot in our butt with a long smile. Ü
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