Lidell layers on 80s pop-soul production techniques for his latest studio album.
Garry Mulholland 2013
Huntingdon’s Jamie Lidell has had an unusual career path.
Kicking off way back in 1997 as a relatively run-of-the-mill techno artist, and bagging a deal with Sheffield’s Warp label when it was still the home of leftfield electronic dance music, Lidell gradually remodelled himself as a blue-eyed soul man.
By the time he’d reached third album Jim in 2008, he was making a music far closer to Jamiroquai than Aphex Twin, showcasing a fully Americanised white funk voice over increasingly accomplished revivals of Stevie Wonder-esque pop soul.
Made at his home studio in Nashville, Lidell’s entirely self-produced, composed and performed new album sees him finally do something logical. Or, at least, entirely logical to a man who has decided to live 30 years behind the times.
He’s made an album that sounds exactly like the synthetic pop-soul of the 1980s – think Prince, The Time, The Power Station, The System. This is a record mixed on the same gear as Paula Abdul’s 1989 hit Opposites Attract – a fact that Lidell actually boasts about.
The reason that such a potentially pointless enterprise in trash retro works lies entirely in Lidell’s extraordinary talents as musician and producer.
The best tracks here – I’m Selfish, What a Shame, Blaming Something, You Know My Name, So Cold, Don’t You Love Me – are best served on headphones while immersing yourself in the complex layers of electronic percussion, burbling bass and polyphonic synth.
These tracks constantly dart around the stereo mix, itching and scratching and communicating sexual desperation by way of extraneous bonks, slaps and robotic claps.
So play Jamie Lidell to someone who adores both jazz-funk and much-maligned 80s production overkill in the mould of Provision-era Scritti Politti, and they will melt with nerdish, reference-spotting pleasure.
Conversely, play it to someone who hates that stuff and they will wince, grimace and declare that this is Maroon 5 without the hit choruses.
And both will be absolutely right.