David Guetta’s poignant new album provides a real insight into the mind of one of the best pop producers of the 2010s. For those of you who imagine David Guetta as just a slightly sinister euro-trash-monger, this album will surprise you: there is depth, wit, and a developed sense of self-knowledge. The collaborations are all-star, the production values are intense, and every album track is a future classic. Guetta’s second album, Guetta Blaster, was one that most music fans would have in their top ten, but Nothing But The Beat is in a different league.
Nicki Minaj has worked extensively with Guetta before, and the artistic relationship they have built up has borne fruit in ‘Where Them Girls At’, a rousing feminist anthem. The dichotomy between Guetta and Minaj’s respective choruses delivers an unresolved tension: an edge that both excites and terrifies in a futile orgiastic pursuit. In ‘Sweat’ featuring Snoop Dogg, themes of frustration, desire and intimacy are explored. Dogg’s lyrics have an innocence that belies his fourteen arrests, and Guetta’s whining synths combine to weave an exhilarating textural experience.
The best track on the album is ‘Night of Your Life’ with Jennifer Hudson who isn’t fat anymore. The build up is hypnotic, each climax pushes the constraints of human emotion even further, the pulse races, the thumping bass has an insistency which reaches its pathetic conclusion in a puddle of autotune. Hudson wipes up the shame with the sigh of an 808.
To discuss the tracks in isolation is to misunderstand the album, though. The tracks have coherence like Revolver, a thread running through not unlike OK Computer, and a seamless narrative like TLC’s CrazySexyCool. There is a driving purpose to Nothing But The Beat that the collaborators understand and seem enthused to work with. Next time you have a crisis in Shark End, feel reassured that David Guetta will probably be there to guide you through: the ideas explored in this album are timeless and emotive.