Initially an experimental techno artist, Nashville-based Brit Jamie Lidell then became the most out-of-place act on the Warp label’s roster after essentially turning into a one-man Maroon 5 with 2005’s Multiply.
Undeterred by the fact that he’s a white guy who grew up in a market town in Cambridgeshire, the 39-year-old now delves even further into the Minneapolis synth-funk scene of the 80s with a self-titled fifth studio album that he proudly claims was recorded on the same equipment as Paula Abdul’s animated cat duet, “Opposites Attract.”
You might expect such a ‘boast’ to tell you everything you need to know about Jamie Lidell’s current ambitions. But although there are a couple of obvious bids for that elusive first hit, including the stomping Cee Lo Green-esque soul of “What A Shame” and the glistening Prince pastiche of opening track, “I’m Selfish,” the follow-up to 2010’s Compass isn’t merely a deliberate attempt to steal a bit of Adam Levine’s thunder.
The burbling bass-lines and chunky gleaming synths of “Big Love” is basically the missing link between Cameo’s sex machine funk and Clint Mansell’s score for Drive. “Why Ya Why” could rival Outkast’s Idlewild soundtrack for its ability to seamlessly blend New Orleans jazz with contemporary R&B. Meanwhile, those disappointed by the lack of progression in Justin Timberlake’s new material could do worse than check out “You Naked,” a suggestive and slightly insane mid-tempo which sounds like FutureSex/LoveSounds has been fed through an acid-house blender.
A couple of low-key ‘Stevie Wonder past his best’ neo-soul jams (“Don’t You Love Me,” “Blaming Something”) explain why Lidell is still very much a cult concern rather than a global superstar, whilst the pure chaos of “You Know My Name” wanders off into self-indulgent territory.
But almost a decade on from ditching the weirdness, Jamie Lidell could be the record that finally endears him to the wider audience he deserves.