Anything is really going these days when it comes to music.
Almost every decade seems to be revitalized and turned on its head for new generations to enjoy and re-discover. We've got those raised on diets of 90's R&B in their youth reviving the gasping genre. The 60's and 70's didn't die once the ball dropped into the 21st Century, as there still are those that finger-snap, scribble down poetic tomes, and Marvin Gaye croon their way on through. Then there are the 80's crumbsnatchers those who love those stark and blind-siding synthesizers and drugged out mood pieces to where their material brims of it. Just about everything is swirling together in a thick variant gumbo to where looking back in 10 years time, I'm not sure what I would describe to my future kids exactly what was the early 21st century's distinct sound. Yet, who's really worrying about it? Certainly not the artist's doing it, because if anything this century is based in doing what you love and paying homage to those you love, and an example of that is Jamie Liddell's self-titled album, where the love of nostalgia races through its fiber.
While the English gent has his funky white boy counterparts --- past and present --- Lidell has always managed to be an island of his own creation. He's doesn't do soul with dollar signs in his eyes or to seem 'down' only for convenience. Lidell's albums have always been diverse journeys on their own and separated him from being just a guy who tries to impress friends by loving the most obscure Prince song to a guy who is entrenched in the crafting of the art of soul. As Lidell's last outing, 2009's Compass, was an avant-garde journey in eclecticism that divided fans (I was one who thoroughly enjoyed it), Jamie Lidell is the polar opposite, building off of Compass's lone funk strutter "I Wanna Be Your Telephone", as it drinks a protein shake of Prince-ly delights and coasts along a neon skyline of futuristic 1980's funk and boogie, while maintaining a moderately fresh sheen. It's obvious from the kaleidoscopic first single, "What A Shame", that Lidell was going for the gusto, zeroing into a sharp dagger of synthesized techniques, but once opener "I'm Selfish" slams in, you hear that Lidell truly is toting the big guns this time out.
Speaking of 'big', you get grandiose numbers like "Big Love" and they are massive and attractive. Playing into the hands of synth lovers like me, "Big Love" is so 80's that it bleeds coke and neon --- and yeah, it's pretty awesome (and yes, it is my favorite here). Lidell continues to strut around as he pulls out the insta-funk and fun of "Do Yourself A Faver" and it samples flavors a la Zapp and Cameo, while naturally, "You Naked" is Lidell back at his Prince tricks again and really heating things up in this smacking groove.
"Why Ya Why" and "Blaming Something" embodies Funkadelic/P*Funk in their 'electric spanking war baby' days. The spangly tempo changes of standout "So Cold" have Lidell in pure experimental mode, throwing out some slippery Sly Stone vocal phrasing, while equally impressive "Don't You Love Me" thumps on some chew-worthy bass lines.
You notice I name check a lot of artists, and I do for reason. Jamie Lidell is so saturated in this throwback guise that it's really hard to not have certain artists come to mind. Actually, at times, the album prods you ever so slightly to turn it off in order to seek out the original source material that this was no doubt inspired from and call it a day. Pluck up those that I mentioned above, maybe even throw in some The System, even Peter Gabriel at his funkiest (see "Sledgehammer" and "Shock The Monkey" as the examples) --- all would suffice in Jamie Lidell's place. Still, that's way harsh, Tai, as Lidell's dips into nostalgia don't really have an agenda or some sneaky master plan of copycat-ism.
Along with producer Justin Stanley (one half of Mark Ronson's BeatHustlers and married to funktress Nikka Costa), Lidell creates an album that isn't about trying to pass off something that he isn't, as he has proven time and time again that he is a legitimate ball of ingenuity. Jamie Lidell is more so a throttling love letter towards a decade that is long gone, but shouldn't be forgotten, and what better way than to experience a variations of the 80's themes by someone who actually embodies it rather well? For simple sake, Lidell is just kicking around and having fun creating the music that he is obviously fond of, and that attitude is infectious enough to have you craft an instant party around these day-glo grooves.
*Jamie Lidell is currently out now.
*There is also a pretty good (and recent) in-depth four-part interview with Lidell discussing his music and other funky things, and you can start it all off here.