Everything about Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo’s collaborative album is derivative of contemporary music. The cartoonish cover, the juvenile lyrics, the drug references; everything. The very idea of combining each of their artistic styles into one project is peculiar. Sia’s powerful voice doesn’t match well with Diplo’s electronic, Chainsmokers-inspired production. Neither does Lab’s rapping.
The trio, also known as LSD, felt like it was a good idea to release a full length album, regardless of the contrasting styles. The result is one of the blandest pop records of the past three years. This isn’t even a good summer album, despite its colorful setting and playful aesthetic. Diplo essentially conforms to the trendy trap hi-hats and breaks (like on “Genius” and “Audio”), while Sia fails to find her recognizable voice amongst this awkward platform of sounds that clearly doesn’t adhere to her strengths (“No New Friends”).
Lab is absent for most of this record; never finding his footing behind obnoxious production from Diplo. The electronic synth patterns imitate those of The Chainsmokers (the last band anyone should imitate), making it harder for any stylistic choice to stand out. Sia is too much of a respected singer to be subjected to teen-inspired debauchery.
The grand introduction of “Welcome to the Wonderful World of” does little to prepare listeners for how run-of-the-mill this album quickly becomes. The saxophone solo at the end of it acts as one of the lone bright spots instrumentally speaking. Diplo quickly reminds us all of how uninspired he is on the very next track, “Angel in Your Eyes,” which is essentially a direct copy of any Pharell-produced endeavor. Not to mention, the lyrics are undeniably phoned-in, with a chorus and melody that can be found on any local radio-friendly pop channel.
Potential for a great song is waisted once a bombastic electronic break enters the fold, especially after Sia brings some nice subtle vocals (like on “Mountains”). The only time there seems to be any emotion at all is when Diplo wisely allows Sia to do her thing, like on the surprisingly gorgeous piano ballad, “It’s Time.” For once, Diplo doesn’t feel the need to interrupt an actual great idea with some type of lazy beat drop; which adds abhorrently passionless layers.
The trio can’t figure out how to mix their vocals with this awkward production, which notably becomes a problem on the lead single, “Genius.” Lab’s chorus is abysmal, mimicking a worse Kanye in the process (think of “Bad News” where he uses a similar rendition of the vocoder; in much more emotionally resonant way). And if things weren’t already worse enough, Lil Wayne comes in with his own phoned-in verse on the remix at the end (“Upper echelon when I bless you/Molest you with intellectual/It’s a pleasure, it gets sexual”). I guess Weezy also conformed to the lyrical shortcomings this album is plagued with.
There’s nothing weird about LSD’s artistic choices here. Everything’s just kind of bland. Diplo takes every idea from contemporary music (trap, electronic, etc.), and recycles it into a painstaking 30-minute undertaking. Sia and Labrinth can’t utilize their strengths at all. It’s a shame each of the trio felt the need to mask creativity and originality with incompetent song structure, especially since they’re usually talented in their own rights.
Listeners need to not give them the benefit of the doubt. The songs here aren’t “abstract;” just bad.