The Black Eyed Peas

The Beginning

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Described by the band alternately as "a fresh new perspective" and "the beginning of a new era of Pea world domination" and "what is actually happening in the world right now," The Beginning inevitably follows The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies), which boasted the number one single in America -- either "Boom Boom Pow" or "I Gotta Feeling" -- during fully half of 2009, including every single summer day (and then some). Although the lead single here prominently samples an '80s touchstone, and on the cover the Peas are displayed as pixelated preteens, Nintendo fashion, The Beginning isn’t a nostalgia trip. Barring a Slick Rick or Chic sample here and a Mr. Roboto reference there (plus buckets of hi-res synth driving the productions), nothing else directly evokes the '80s. As on their last two LPs, it's heavily reliant on nightclub sloganeering and will.i.am’s purposefully (?) lame throwback rapping, alongside Auto-Tune harmonies and waves of synth. David Guetta appears on only one track, but his production job for 2009's "I Gotta Feeling" casts a long shadow on this record of don’t-stop-the-party jams and half-baked club-life anthems. It leads off with a pumping first single, "The Time (Dirty Bit)," oddly built off "(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life," the inescapably treacly duet by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes from 1987's Dirty Dancing. The album was announced in July 2010 and released four months later, but it still sounds as though it was rush-recorded and rush-released, the results of a string of late-nighters by will.i.am and co-producer DJ Ammo. (Perhaps their latest date with destiny, aka the halftime show of Super Bowl XLV, had something to do with it.) There are plentiful will.i.am vocals and comparatively few features for Fergie and the others, and the songs don't burrow into your head, earworm-style, like "My Humps" or "Boom Boom Pow." Still, there are scattered moments of respectability, including that lone David Guetta production, "The Best One Yet (The Boy)," and "Don't Stop the Party."

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