In today’s world of DJ’s becoming the new rock-stars, Afrojack is right up front as one of the most popular and well known DJ’s on planet Earth right now (possibly just trailing behind his good friend and fellow DJ/Producer David Guetta), and guess what? He’s just released his debut album, ‘Forget The World’! So, let’s take a look and see what it contains. Will it be business as usual in the land of Afrojack or will he pull a box of tricks and surprises out of the bag?
The first thing that is noticeable about the album, before the CD has even had it’s first play, is the huge amount of guests featured within it’s track-list, with some of the biggest names in music (Rap legend Snoop Dogg, Ex-Police front-man Sting and American rockers, Thirty Seconds to Mars, to name but a few), the first of which is found on the opening tack ‘Ten Feet Tall’ in the form of guest vocalist Wrabel. No surprises here, just a great opener with plenty of summery sing-along potential (perfect for the festival season) and a lovely feel-good vibe!
However, by the time track five (The Spark, featuring guest vocalist Bree Wilson) comes around, things are fast starting to become stale, with every track seemingly being aimed at becoming a feel-good, sing-along summer hit. Often albums will have one or two songs that are more veered towards the idea of being the ‘single’ or ‘singles’ of the album, but so far, it seems to be that every song aims for this status. I’m in no way saying this is a bad thing, but after success with adventurous releases by the likes of Daft Punk with ‘Random Access Memories’ last year and Deadmau5 with ‘While (1 < 2)’, just coming up for a fortnight since release at the time of this review, it feels like Afrojack is playing it safe, perhaps to guarantee commercial success? But the constant roll of ‘pop-dance’ tracks with the ‘instrumental – vocals – build up – beat – repeat’ formula just starts to feel a little too samey a little too quickly.
However, just as things start to feel a little predictable, track six begins to pour out of my speakers and raise my attention. Dynamite Featuring Snoop Dogg is a welcome break from the pop dance, giving us a, what is mostly, a bass-heavy, sleazy (in the best kind of way) piece of trap. However, it’s not long before things take a turn, not necessarily for the worst, but for the predictable. The floaty synthesizers and pop-dance elements come back for brief moments, to then return back to the songs original sound. Perhaps sticking to the one sound would have been a better idea, as the contrast just seems to clash a little bit too much.
From here on in, the rest of the album is just more throw-away dance-pop fodder (most disappointingly this is the case with Sting Collaboration ‘Catch Tommorow’, which could have been a great chance to bring some Police style, reggae influences to the mix), with just a few exceptions. Stand out moments include a superb remix of the Thirty Seconds To Mars track ‘Do or Die’, which although it is akin to the dance-pop flavor of most of the album, has an extra power from the superb vocal delivery of the band’s lead singer Jared Leto, making it really stand out as stadium anthem! ‘Faded’ brings us back to Afrojack’s earlier sound, being a no-nonsense Electro-House/Big-Room track with enough balls to rattle a sound system and pump energy into the EDM lovers of the world. ‘Mexico’ featuring Shirazi is also a well placed break from all the beats, with an almost ballad like feel complete with lots of strings and orchestral additions to make a surprisingly dynamic and well written song, very different to previous Afrojack work.
So, to summarize, this is not a bad album. Yet somehow I feel that there is something missing from what could of been an explosive debut release. The overall Pop-Dance sound just feels far too safe, aiming at creating Top 40 hits that a year from now will be forgotten, replaced by more of the same. Yet the stand-out moments really do stand out in a big way and show signs of something more exciting, yet they are too few and far between.