Mar 07, 2013 Web Exclusive
British songwriter and singer Jamie Lidell returns after a three-year hiatus with a record that shows just how easily he can combine heart and technology. Shedding the more experimental touches of 2010's Compass, Jamie Lidell harks back to the cocktail shaker of soul music that brought him worldwide attention with Jim (2008) and the Motown-tinged Multiply (2005). It also confirms that this Englishman can undertake a shift in direction so smoothly he should be treated for acute David Bowie disorder.
An unbroken set of slickly-produced pop tracks, Jamie Lidell feels as though the Beck-assisted soul vocalist from Compass woke up in the '80s, corrupted by Stock Aitken Waterman. "You Know My Name" hits hard with piercing voices and fizzy disco beats, like "Thriller" connected to interrogation equipment, while "What a Shame" takes a samba rhythm and buries it in bouncing noise pollution. "What a shame/You make me feel like a stranger/Even though we're engaged," howls Lidell, his voice as ragged as it was three years ago but higher due to tight disco pants.
The second half of the album is gentler, finding Lidell more comfortable with his resized funky palette. "Don't You Love Me" catches him wooing his beloved with an R&B serenade, silkier than Lionel Richie. "So Cold" crosses French electro with a squealing keyboard, and "Blaming Something" is a slow, unfussy soul ballad where Lidell laments his Internet addiction, crying "I don't want to be a victim no more." Though it never loses touch with its sense of fun-the batshit "why_ya_why" is a dance-off between guest vocalists, set to the jazzy strains of the Homeland credits-it rounds out a fourth devilish LP from Jamie Lidell, and sticks a big middle finger to anyone convinced that a Brit could never do an authentic Frank Ocean impression. (www.jamielidell.com)
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Average reader rating: 7/10
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