Album Review: Steve Aoki Wonderland

27 January 2012 | 3:03 pm | Stuart Evans

Despite that this is Aoki’s first official album release, it’s not much of a shift from what’s already blaring out of mainstream radio.

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Anything David Guetta can do, Steve Aoki can do better, right? Loved by many, loathed by others – Steve Aoki has divided opinion amongst countless techno and electro nuts. He may have founded Dim Mak Records and influenced the likes of Bloc Party and The Bloody Beetroots, but his musical output has attracted its fair share of criticism for numerous reasons, including being labelled as betraying his original musical principles. Harsh criticism indeed.

So, after releasing hit single after hit single, the Californian resident has finally written and produced a full-length artist album, albeit with support from an array of collaborations. Wonderland features 13 tracks with many favourites of the now crowd included in Aoki's collaborative approach to music making with NERVO, LMFAO, Chiddy Bang, Kid Cudi and Blink 182's Travis Barker appearing.

On the bulk of tracks, Aoki veers away from his more customary hard electro sound. Earthquakey People sets the tone with its mish-mash of rock and dance. Wynter Gordon's vocal elevates Ladi Dadi while Emergency has drums snapping here there and everywhere alongside the rapping of Chiddy Bang. The end of the album changes tact with heavy bass, sparse vocals and fist thumping drum patterns.

Wonderland is a mixture of commercial dance pop, progressive elements and sound production values arranged, seemingly, to appeal to popular music lovers. What is missing is that hook – the difference between making a song standout and making a song just ok. Wonderland isn't particularly groundbreaking and, despite that this is Aoki's first official album release, it's not much of a shift from what's already blaring out of mainstream radio. For Aoki, it's more of a sidewards step aimed at not offending.

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