This post was SUPPOSED to be about the E.N.D. of the Black Eyed Peas... but damn if this isn't a pretty good album that puts an interesting spin on techno-dance music.
I want to hate the Black Eyed Peas. I want to be able to write a mega-vitriolic post about Fergie as the new-millennium Yoko Ono. But here I am nodding my head to "Boom Boom Pow" and saying to myself, "That's actually a redeemable and half-decent use of Auto-Tune," which is pretty rare for me.
Don't get me wrong. I still can't stand Fergie - and as to my girl's constant assertions that she is mad yay, I would give her a 5 out of 10 on My Scale of Women Who Vaguely Remind Me of Bullfrogs And/Or The Chick Gremlin from Gremlins 2. But despite her annoying contributions, Will.i.am's reasonably-consistent musical excellence just refuses to allow the Peas to be dragged down to her level.
That said, The E.N.D. is a techno-dance record thinly disguised as hip-hop. Nothing wrong with that; it's just the way it is. To his credit, Will's version of techno is much more involved and interesting than most of what I'm used to hearing. While I'm a much bigger fan of the tracks that lean more toward hip-hop ("Imma Be," the old-school Bambataa-style backing of "Ring-a-Ling"), straight-up dance tracks like "Rock That Body" and "Rockin' to the Beat" are definitely infectious.
My main problem with the second incarnation of the Peas is that they essentially became a vehicle for Fergie which, from a commercial/sales standpoint, I totally get. It's just that I thought they were plenty good before she came along. This sort of third incarnation, though, as a modern dance-music group, achieves a nice balance between the mega-pop Peas and the indy-minded hip-hoppers they started out as. It also has a lot more of the sounds that Will.i.am used to excellent effect on his Beat Generation instrumental album, which is probably my favorite of all the Peas-related work.