Jamie Lidell

Multiply

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Head On and Raw Digits, the two albums Jamie Lidell made with Cristian Vogel as Super_Collider, remain thrilling meeting points between the lacerating, discombobulated electronic disco of Liaisons Dangereuses and the freak-flag-flying funk of early-'80s Cameo. Lidell's Multiply is more a successor to those two albums than his first solo full-length, 2000's relatively rigid and academic Muddlin Gear. Only now, he's gone a rather straight-laced route, retreating to things like mid-'60s Stax and Motown, James Brown, pre-Revolution Prince, and oh, you get the idea. The focus here is on Lidell's affected (if occasionally affecting) voice, real instruments, and real songs. Lidell's voice is rarely treated, unlike the alien moments on the Super_Collider albums, and it will be compared to a few soul legends, though it's just as deserving of parallels to John Fogerty and semi-obscure journeyman singer Shawn Smith (who, as part of a duo called Pigeonhed, made an unrecognized precursor to Head On in 1993). With about as much effort, Lidell could do wicked impressions of any earnest post-grunge vocalist. Though he's not against using electronics to his advantage -- as on the zapping, slightly hallucinatory "When I Come Back Around," which lands somewhere around an imagined Basement Jaxx remix of "Controversy" -- plenty of songs are knocked out with Hammond organs, horn blurts, handclaps, and all the other elements to make it as authentic as any neo-soul release. Since this is out on Warp, many will question whether or not Lidell's being ironic, but it's plain that he's being sincere, despite the affectations. He really is pouring everything he has into the whole thing, but there's so much overly earnest, reverential, "let's get back to making real music" energy floating around that you can sense it nibbling away at the desire to make something that sounds like today. And if that doesn't bother you, a couple issues with this album remain -- one being that at least half of it could've been made by a moderately talented hobbyist.

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