We gave it a B+
Nonstop partying is more than just a favorite lyrical theme for the Black Eyed Peas — it?s a business plan. Less than 18 months after dropping their last multiplatinum smash, The E.N.D., the tireless troupe are already back with another full-length disc. If you?ve heard first single ”The Time (Dirty Bit),” an undercooked attempt at remaking Dirty Dancing soundtrack staple ”(I?ve Had) The Time of My Life” as a dance-floor banger, you might be forgiven for wondering if the Peas? accelerated release schedule has come at the cost of diminished creative energy. Don?t fret. Simply skip past ”Time,” which is conveniently sequenced as the opening track, and you?ll have a set that delivers as many sugary treats as any Peas platter to date.
The Beginning wisely sticks with the heavier electronic beats they began importing from European clubs for The E.N.D. — a key ingredient that transformed the Peas from merely major stars to arguably the biggest chart act going, with five top 10 singles (three of them No. 1?s) from that album landing on Billboard?s Hot 100. Otherwise, the recipe they employ here is much the same as the one they have relied on ever since hook belter par ? excellence Fergie joined rapper-producer will.i.am and genial sidekicks apl.de.ap and Taboo for 2003?s Elephunk. Every song is piled high with sticky pop melodies, slick hip-hop rhythms, bright synth parts, and vocals that have been diced and processed to high heaven, all furthering the goal of maximum catchiness. ”Someday” even adds a ringing guitar riff that recalls recent tourmates U2 to the band?s omnivorous diet.
As usual for the Peas, lyrics are the weakest part of these compositions. ”I like to go out every night!” will.i.am self-evidently ? exclaims on ”Fashion Beats,” a thesis statement of sorts for the entire album. Elsewhere, he strings together groan-worthy couplets like ”I?m so official/ That?s why I?m rocking this whistle” (”Do It Like This”) and ”Girl, let?s tangle up like a pretzel/Kama Sutra loving, baby, let?s go” (”XOXOXO”). Yet critiquing such silly sentiments misses the point of the Peas? music. They?re not trying to be deep — at least, let?s hope they?re not. Instead they have cornered the market on pure, glorious nonsense.
If there?s a more germane complaint to be leveled at The Beginning, it?s that nothing here quite reaches the euphoric heights of The E.N.D.?s ”I Gotta Feeling” or ”Boom Boom Pow.” Still, standouts like ”Don?t Stop the Party” come close. The Peas may not have dramatically outdone themselves this time, but they?ve succeeded at keeping the good times rolling yet again. B+