How easy the world seemed on the hipster-Hollywood club axis in the mid 2000s.
Then of course, America’s economy went to hell, dance music became mainstream pop’s lingua franca, and micro-blog celebrities sprouted anew. A Steve Aoki solo album in 2012 evokes the weird sensation of being nostalgic for an era only five years departed.
But knives down, party people. “Wonderland” should also be a reminder that Aoki really did make some major contributions to the ways we dance and party today. As a DJ, he gave plenty of L.A. indie kids their first taste of decadent electronica and arguably laid the tracks for today’s onslaught of rough-edged dance music.
But it’s not surprising that the guest-heavy “Wonderland” feels Bush-era frothy and, like Aoki’s club-hopping persona, plenty distracted. Will.i.am, Travis Barker, Rivers Cuomo and Lil Jon make more-or-less consequential appearances (though credit’s due to a guy who can get LMFAO and Die Kreuzen on the same album). The single “Ladi Dadi” is a cupid’s arrow aimed at fans of Kaskade’s sultry vocals; “Ooh” rifles around Skrillex’s fridge for caffeinated dubstep (with a fun turn from the L.A. rapper Robert Raimon Roy). It’s obvious Aoki is a better tastemaker and label boss than producer, but then, didn’t we all dream so big in 2005?
Two stars (Out of four)
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— August Brown