This Temporary Life

Love and rock are fickle things

REVIEW: Czarface – Czarface February 23, 2013

The Wu-Tang Clan will always be the best hip-hop collective that has ever been, but the problem with having a crew as big as the Wu is that the talent becomes a tiered system. You can tell a lot about a person by who their favorite Wu-Tang affiliate is: most people are going to choose RZA if they’re into the beats, or Ghostface Killah if they want their hip-hop to be gritty, but a little over-the-top. Ol’ Dirty Bastard fans are always fun at parties, unless they’re the kinds of people who wear shirts with Kurt Cobain or Bob Marley on them (read: people who obsess over dead musicians, without bothering to listen to them). Fans of GZA are the kinds of people who understand being disappointed after getting their hands on one great thing (read: every GZA record that isn’t Liquid Swords). Fans of Raekwon are patient, and can wait for what they’ve been promised. We all know what it says about a fan of Method Man. It should be stated that there isn’t anything wrong with being a fan of anybody in the Wu, at all. But what does it say about someone who’s really into Inspectah Deck?

For better or worse, Inspectah Deck is the most commonly forgotten lower-tier member of the Wu. It’s not that he isn’t talented, by any means: I attended a show featuring Inspectah, U-God, and Masta Killa last year, and he was the only person who wasn’t drunk to the point of being unforgivably bad. Were he with another crew, he would have definite star power, but being that he has seemed content with being in the background, and stepping in to deliver a few really great verses. My allegiance has always been with RZA, Ghostface, and Raekwon (but only because Only Built 4 Cuban Linx I and II are hip-hop classics), so my knowledge of Deck’s back catalog is incredibly lacking, so I feel like his newest record, Czarface (which is the name of Deck’s collaboration with 7L & Esoteric), is as good of a time as any to get with the program. Admittedly, I’m only a little more familiar with his solo output than I am with the work of 7L & Esoteric, but their work on this album is mindblowing at times. One of the thing I notice immediately is the fact that I’m drawn in by the fact that the supervillain-centric artwork and sampling remind me a lot of that of MF DOOM’s comic book obsessions. That’s a common hip-hop trope, but here, it works perfectly, especially considering the fact that its use isn’t overbearing. However, the best sample comes near the very end of the record on “World War 4,” when the late George Carlin’s stand-up shows up – twice (first a sample of You Are All Diseased, and the other of his landmark “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” bit). But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The next thing I notice is that the production on the album hearkens back to a time before rap was a commodity, and was more of something that nobody was sure how to monetize. 7L manages to make the album sound like it may as well have come out around the same time that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… came out, but instead it was born during a truly depressing drought, and it fits in perfectly. The biggest issue here is that, just like in Wu-Tang, everyone around Deck steals the show and pushes things just a little far. These things happen, but when he takes the ball back, he truly shines. Take “Savagely Attack,” for example: he takes it from the top, and delivers a verse that’s good enough to make Ghostface Killah’s appearance look clumsy by comparison. It’s hard not to feel like he’s been holding back a little bit. And while “Marvel Team-Up” has a concept that’s a little clumsy, the slow-flow by everyone feels like they’re trying to purposefully hold back. It feels lethargic, but this is intentional: the following track, “It’s Raw,” proves to be a potential classic – and it doesn’t help that the guest appearance by Action Bronson slays so very, very much, and he gets the best one-liner here (“I’m like the Bobby Flay of rap the way I flavor shit”).

Czarface is a minor release, to be very sure. It was released with little to no fanfare, and it’s hard to not wonder why this hasn’t gotten any real promotion leading up to the release. In the end, we only get half an hour of music, which means that there’s almost no filler whatsoever. It’s not a perfect album, but considering how long we’ve been waiting for a new Wu album  – and how much longer we’re going to be waiting – it’s hard to not get excited by something new from the main camp.

 

REVIEW: Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob

I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader: Tegan & Sara aren’t a band that I can really click with. It has been pointed out to me that this makes little sense: considering the music that I have sewn into the fabric of my life, it comes as a surprise to a lot of people that I never quite made the Alberta natives a bigger part of my life. It could have been something that could have happened once upon a time, but the sad fact is, they were unceremoniously ruined for me by a friend who decided that they were one of the only bands worth talking about, and she would talk about them ceaselessly. This isn’t my fault, and it isn’t theirs.

I have a lot more friends who adore them now, so it has become necessary to at least put on a smile when listening to people talk about them. It’s not that they aren’t a good band, they just never weren’t for me. But, I am a professional, and seeing as how they had a new album out, I figured it was about time to set aside those prejudices and give them a fair cop. And, dear reader, I’ll admit that I really do enjoy the album. Heartthrob is album number seven for the duo, and as such, there’s no real need for an introduction, is there? So let’s just talk about the thing: for one, there’s a definite love of the 80s here, and it’s clear that the sisters Quin just couldn’t shake that. Admittedly, I skipped Sainthood, so I don’t know if the synth-beats and the dancefloor-ready bangers are part of the norm these days, but to me, it actually suits them incredibly well. As of this moment in writing about the record, I’m about halfway through listening through again, and thus far, my left leg has not managed to stop bouncing. This is definitely a good sign. But does that mean it’s a good record? It certainly helps.

Heart-on-sleeve dance music is, as you may know if you’ve read my reviews, like catnip for me. Tegan & Sara have made the heart-on-sleeve part their bread and butter over the last two decades, so adding in the rest of it just adds fuel to my fire. The minute I really got into their particular brand of it was on the ridiculously good “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” a song that is exactly two minutes too short: “I can’t say that I’m sorry, for loving you and hating myself.” It’s a line that hits close to home for damn near everyone listening to this song, myself definitely included. This is a song that comes from a place of shame influenced by an external force, and the tightrope act involved in making a song that catchy out of hurt that deep is an incredible song. But here’s the thing: that happens all over the place here. Anyone who has been listening since they first heard So Jealous in middle school is likely scoffing at that thought, but for me, this is all new stuff. Even the songs that come from a place of unbridled love are undercut by a tinge of regret, and a desire to cover up old wounds: “I won’t treat you like you’re oh-so-typical,” they sing in the chorus of “Closer,” which opens the record. It’s a line that comes off as a sweet nothing if you aren’t paying attention, but from the right mindset, it’s hard to not want to be the person hearing someone telling them that. And that’s just two songs on this record. That’s not even bothering to talk about “I Was A Fool” and its soaring chorus and its twinkling piano line, or the vaguely claustrophobic “Now That I’m Messed Up, which steals a trick or two from the Bright Eyes handbook, which flows into the pounding synths that cool down over the course of the album’s lonely closer, “Shock To Your System,” with its truly heartbreaking refrain: “What you are is lonely.” Time will tell if this album is a classic, but a lot of the time, it feels like it has a fair few of the markers of being one.

It’s a hard thing to pull off a record like this. To make pop music, you have to cover up the worst parts of life, but Tegan & Sara make it seem incredibly simple on Heartthrob, just like my personal heroes of therapy rock. This is an album that makes you want to put on spandex short shorts and dance with someone who probably gave you a fake name, and is definitely wearing some kind of body glitter. It’s an album that is influenced by a desire to escape real life. And, just like real life, even the most resplendent moments let sadness in through the cracks.

It’s an awesome record. Now get off my back already.

 

REVIEW: Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Filed under: Album Reviews — TemporaryLife @ 1:10 am
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Close the door and have a seat. I need to get something off my chest. Can you keep a secret?

I never got into The Smiths as much as I should have. I’ve listened to all of their music, and while I think that Morrissey is a dirtbag a lot of the time, I think he’s one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever had. I think that the combination of Morrissey and Marr is completely unbeatable combination, but I never found the same love for their seminal band that everyone else did. Don’t hate me, okay? I’ve never really tried too hard to hide it, but I never really came out and said it, you know?

Still, whenever either Morrissey or Marr do anything, my ears perk up. While Morrissey immediately started working for himself after the dissolving of The Smiths, Marr became a chameleon, working with everyone from The Cribs to Modest Mouse to Paul McCartney, he’s made no small name for himself working in the background, save for the one thing he ever truly stamped his name on, Johnny Marr + The Healers. But, true to his nature, he decided it was about time to make a solo record, and just not make a very big fuss about it at all. There’s something to be said about those actions, considering Marr borders on a household name, but I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way.

The biggest issue with The Messenger is that Marr has spent more time in the background than he has in the foreground, and it has basically made it an uphill battle to define himself outside of the music he’s made for other people in the past. You hear it immediately, and it’s hard to truly connect with at times, especially because there are a fair few stylistic shifts, the most notable of which being the album’s title track, with its glam rock leanings and it simplistic lyrics: “Your eyes are open and you’re on / I’m here and I’m ready / My time’s for taking if you want Who wants to be a messenger?” Really, if you came for the lyrics in general, you may be a tad disappointed; while the words are good, they’re definitely nothing to write home about. The harsh reality is, if this album had come out at the top of his post-Smiths career, it would have been hailed as a classic, but it may have come a couple decades too late.

But that’s just the bad news. The good news is that the album is loaded with truly great stuff, too. Go listen to “Generate! Generate!” and tell me that you don’t want to dance in your chair and pump your fist in the air along with the song (spoiler alert: it’s not quite possible, and you probably look as silly as I do). Take the aforementioned shiny little title-track, “The Messenger”, for example: for its simplicity, it packs a wollop as a flat-out wonderful song, and likely one of the best ear-worms I’ve heard in months. It’s easy to miss, but you hear a lot of the influences of his old bands all over the record, and it really works well in a lot of places.

The real question is this: is The Messenger a good record? It is, without question. The problem is that it never stops being good, so that it can start being great. There’s a lot to love about it, and for a lot of people, this is going to be on repeat for months and months. It’s going to take some time for Marr to find his own footing as a solo artist, and when that day comes, he’s going to blow everyone else out of the water. I hate to say it, but at this moment in time, he’s missed the mark.

 

REVIEW: Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Untamed Beast February 22, 2013

Filed under: Album Reviews — TemporaryLife @ 2:46 am
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“Never have I had a rational mind, and never have I been rational inside.” That’s the very first line that Sallie Ford spits out on “They Told Me,” the first track on Untamed Beast, the brand new record by Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside. If Portland, OR had a sound, it would probably be that of Sallie Ford: persistently laser-focused, obsessed with notions of the past, and preternaturally good at using the given space to collect an unseen advantage. This is by no means a bad thing: the first time I heard this band, they were opening for Iron & Wine in the middle of the city, and the band’s sound made the place sound like a dive bar, despite the fact that they were playing their songs in the middle of the city, in a ridiculously mismatched venue (i.e. a massive one), at around 4 in the afternoon. Since then, the band hasn’t changed their sound so much as distilled it, carving away the unnecessary bits in favor of raw, pulsing nerves.

This is a band that plays in an alternate universe where Jack White and his White Stripes never existed, and though I have become slightly jaded about straight-up rock music, it’s hard to not be inspired by this band. Untamed Beast is the kind of stomper that reinvigorates your adoration for a particular style of music, or even for an instrument. It’s a record that may as well have been made in 1959, and indeed, if I were presented with it as an album that were that old, my only question would be about why nobody had told me about it sooner. There are a hundred little things to fall in love with here, be it startlingly reserved and intimate production present on the album’s closer “Roll Around,” or the way Ford punches up the word “Paris” in the chorus of the song of the same name: “You’re like a parasite.” And that’s just two examples off the top of my head. Each song reveals a series of hidden touches after several listens, and it’s hard to not be wrapped up by it. The best moment, however, is the sexy-as-hell bass solo near the end of “Rockability,” which is interrupted by Ford’s crazed barking – believe me, that’s better than it sounds.

Lyrically is where the album takes things to a different level, however. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and it works impressively for Ford: the metaphor in “Addicted” is one of the most effective on the album, which takes the easy route of comparing love to an addiction, but throws us a curveball by solving the problem by throwing you out “like a cigarette butt.” She toes the line between being thoroughly adept at writing love songs, and writing songs about drinking and screwing, all of which are done far too well to be allowed. On “Bad Boys,” when she exclaims all of the things she can do as well as any man, it comes off as raw and truly powerful, rather than clumsy, like it would with most other musicians: “I can fuck, I can drink, I don’t care what you think.” A line like that needs conviction to back it up, or else it’s just going to sound foolish, but I can’t help but find myself smitten in the span of that singular song – and I am not a bad boy. Even the silliest song on the album, “Do Me Right,” works better than it should considering its extended food/sex metaphor. And none of these songs last nearly long enough.

Near the very end of the album, on the aforementioned “Roll Around,” Ford sings something that fits perfectly with the timeless feeling I got when listening to Untamed Beast: “I just wanna live in the fifties / And you could take me on a date.” There’s a yearning for peace and quiet in that song, which is at remarkable odds with the sheer noise produced by the rest of the songs here. It almost feels like, over the course of half an hour, the band sheds every last layer of intensity, and all that’s left is for them to recharge in a place where, perhaps, the music they’ve made fits in a little better. Some bands just weren’t made for these times, and though this might be one of the best bands that fits that description, I can’t help but be incredibly hopeful that they get the admiration they deserve.

 

REVIEW: Parenthetical Girls – Privilege (Abridged) February 21, 2013

Filed under: Album Reviews — TemporaryLife @ 2:23 am
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Take pleasure in the simple things you break along the way…

The only time I really remember how long ago Entanglements came out is when I really stop to think about it. It came out just before the start of autumn in 2008, and the album very quickly became a go-to record for me. My new girlfriend labelled the album as “circus music,” based on the flow of album highlight “A Song for Ellie Greenwich,” and even after hearing that music regularly for the last four years, she’s never adjusted to the sounds that Parenthetical Girls make. Entanglements was my companion for the incredibly nasty winter that we saw in 2008, and somehow, I’ve never been able to disconnect the sound of songs like “Windmills of Your Mind” or “Avenue of Trees” from the sensation of watching snow drift down from the sky in the middle of the afternoon. That album influenced my thinking to the point that I actually quoted “Four Words” at a funeral during this period: “Bless we with breath, lest we forget.” I don’t ever know if that line means what I thought it meant, but hasn’t stopped me from adoring it.

It’s not quite accurate to say that it has taken over four years to get a new record from Parenthetical Girls. In that four years, they undertook the weighty task of releasing Privilege, a series of five EPs, meant to have come out once each quarter starting in ’10. That project finally finished this past September. Having thought that the process would take a little over a year, I abstained from listening to any of the EPs, so that I could listen to it as one cohesive piece once it was completed. So, really, because of my hopefulness, my wait for a new Parenthetical Girls album was almost exactly four years. Was that wait worth it? Absolutely.

One of the things to really take note of is that the songs of Privilege (Abridged) were recorded over the course of four years, and trickled out slowly. I realize that I’ve just discussed this, but it changes the dynamic of a lot of things here, when you realize that the first track, “Evelyn McHale,” was made a year before “Careful Who You Dance With,” which comes just two tracks later, and over two years before “Curtains,” which finishes the record forty minutes later. Parenthetical Girls feel like they’ve undergone a metamorphosis over the course of this record, and when you narrow things down to the timeline, it’s no wonder why. But what is truly a wonder about that timeline is that Zac Pennington’s songwriting abilities never falter, and each song is just as powerful as the last. The complete Privilege is an hour-and-a-half odyssey, in which each track fits in just right, but even when listening to the condensed version you can’t help but feel like this exact album was always the plan.

It’s impossible to ignore Pennington’s flair for the over-the-top. Indeed, this has always been one of the band’s best assets; it’s hard to not to find a lot of charm in lines like “She’s thick as shit, and pregnant with the myth of a noble proletariat” (“Sympathy For Spastics,” far and away the most flat-out beautiful song in the bunch), or “She was always this heartsick autistic kid” (“The Privilege”), and the worlds these lines inhabit are hard to not want to investigate further. That aforementioned flair makes him one of the most adept world-builders in baroque pop music, where people still use phrases like “noble proletariat,” but also have to worry about getting their heads kicked in because they danced with the wrong person. The stories here feel timeless in a lot of ways, where all of the players are, more or less, always doing exactly what they need to do to stay alive – no matter how dubious it might be.

Even after getting acquainted with the bigger picture, it’s hard to not want more from these songs and characters. This is not to say that anything here is lacking in any way; far from it. It’s a mark of the abilities of the players that I wish each song were at least twice as long (or more, in the case of the aforementioned “Sympathy for Spastics,” which clocks in at a criminal two-and-a-half minutes), because I want to hear more about these people. Even the music behind these songs feels like another set of characters entirely: one can’t help but marvel at the stomping drum beats of “The Pornographer,” with drummer/octopus Paul Alcott tightening the tension with every beat, to the point where it can be almost disorienting. The keyboard work of Amber Smith works as the perfect counterpoint to Alcott’s cacophony, sounding persistently behind the times in all the best ways (and it’s always wonderful when she shows up to sing backup – most notably during “The Common Touch” and “Curtains”).

While listening to the complete Privilege, I came across an interview with Zac Pennington, in which he was asked what made him decide to make a series of EPs in the first place. He answered that – and I’m paraphrasing here, because I can’t find the exact interview – he’d heard that the best way to unblock yourself was to do a series of some sort. That series may have taken longer than originally planned, but it can’t be said that we don’t have anything to show for all of the waiting. It’s entirely possible that Parenthetical Girls may never make a statement as grand as the one they made with Privilege, but I really don’t think they need to. This album is perfect – really, all they need to do from this point on is just make records as best as they can.

 

REVIEW: Atoms For Peace – Amok

What’s your favorite supergroup? I guess, the real question with that question is, of the supergroups you really like, how many of them are as good as the parts? Broken Social Scene and The New Pornographers are among the most well-known, but the members of both maintain that they aren’t actually supergroups. In my mind, even the best of them have a lot of time overcoming the pitfalls associated with being associated with a bigger band. This is exactly why Atoms for Peace have been given a weary eye by most people: you take Thom Yorke’s voice and guitar, Flea’s bass, Nigel Godrich’s keys, and Joey Waronker’s drumming, and, if you’re think about what it might end up sounding like, you hit on what Amok actually does sound like. But let me assure you first: Amok is a neat little record.

Thom Yorke will never be anything but the frontman of Radiohead, and Flea will never be anything but the bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is not an insult to them, or their abilities; Thom Yorke has been a driving force in my life, and Flea may be one of the best modern bassists working today. However, that’s a lot of the problem. When I heard that Atoms for Peace was going to be a thing, I immediately wondered how much it would sound like a Radiohead record. The lucky thing for Amok is, it does not sound like a Radiohead record. It does, however, sound a lot like Thom Yorke’s solo album, the criminally underrated The Eraser. And it sounds like that on every single track.

The upside is that Amok serves to mend a few of the problems with The Eraser, in that it was very much clear that Yorke was attempting to go for something decidedly un-Radiohead with the record. The imagery on the album left almost nothing to the imagination, the production was sharp as a tack, and everything felt a bit Bends-era, but done with Nigel Godrich’s saccharine beats. While all of these things made The Eraser a beautiful record to listen to (even if it could definitely do with a re-sequencing), this album serves to make something slightly closer to a Radiohead record, without making something that makes you ask, “why didn’t he just do this back home?” Yorke’s current interests were incredibly evident on The King Of Limbs, an album that largely stripped away the lush guitar work of In Rainbows in favor of drum machines and repetitive tempos, much in the same way that Liars changed their entire makeup to make the stark, beautiful WIXIW last year. This far into Yorke’s career, it’s a comforting thing that he’s restless, because it means that he’s content with just trying out new things and new masks, instead of shutting everything down completely.

But, you may be asking yourself, what does Amok sound like? A fair question: one of the things that truly serves the album well is the fact that Yorke’s voice sounds more like an instrument than ever. His words have stopped being so far in front of everything else, meaning the sound of his voice ceases to be that focus, and becomes something to isolate, rather than pick apart, in the same way that you might stop to analyze the percussion on its own. This is a mark of the talent that Godrich has always has, because after being Radiohead’s unofficial 6th member for almost 20 years, it’s obvious that he knows how to play to the strengths of everyone in the band, and in this band, it serves well for everything to be a blend of everything at once. On most records, this would be a death mark. But here, it’s a comfort, and makes it more rewarding when you do manage to isolate a small section. Repeat listens reward you with the gift of discovery, like when you notice the howling backup vocals that coarse through “Stuck Together Pieces,” or the tribalism that come to the table courtesy of both Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco, who blend together in a way that feels hard to ignore a lot of the time.

This is a damn good record, and while it doesn’t have the same hit ratio that The Eraser did, this never works as a disadvantage. It works well as an aurally pleasing bit of art that you might stop to examine, from time to time. Over time, certain things spring up as being bits you like more than others, like how the beginning groove of “Before Your Very Eyes…” reminds you of an especially great mid-period (read: the 90s) Chili Peppers track, back when Anthony Kiedis was full of great, persistently groovy ideas. You might also appreciate that “Ingenue” sounds, at least for a minute, like it might erupt into a door-shaking dance track very soon, but it instead keeps along its same path of glockenspiel hammering and Godrich’s semi-funky keyboards toiling away as a portrait of someone trying desperately hard to not be excessive. It’s going to take a decent amount of time to truly sink my teeth into, but after a few listens, it’s clear that, in five year’s time, people will likely talk about giving this album a listen-through, and finding something new and exciting to connect with.

The unfortunate thing is, people will never be able to talk about Amok without talking about the works of Radiohead. You can already hear the internet, full of Radiohead fans, pushing up their collective glasses and readying a 1000-word dissection of how, exactly, this album is weak compared to OK Computer, and how Yorke will never make another Kid A. He is a force larger than life, and though having Flea in your band is no small potatoes, people will undoubtedly relate this album to any given Radiohead song before they even think to compare, say, the bass throb of “Judge Jury and Executioner” to any given Red Hot Chili Peppers song. This, really, is why the idea of the supergroup is inherently flawed: no matter how much you enjoy the touches that different musicians bring to the table from their day jobs, those albums are never quite going to live up to the best records those people made with said bands. But that does not, however, mean that those records aren’t any less enjoyable.

In short: this isn’t Radiohead. This isn’t Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is Atoms for Peace. Listen to them as a completely new band. I think you’ll be surprised what you find.

 

REVIEW: Jamie Lidell – Jamie Lidell February 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — TemporaryLife @ 1:27 am
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One of the things I love most about Warp Records is that, a lot of the time, you can tell, when you listen to one of their bands, that they are on that label. This is by no means a bad thing; they’ve come to represent a certain style of music, made for somewhat homely people dancing in basements with similarly homely people, who care about having fun as much as they care about the music itself. Be it the propulsive math rock of Battles, or the sweater-vest aesthletes in Grizzly Bear, Warp Records has always bred a very specific style and ethos. This is something I have always been grateful for.

I am likely the only one who really got into Jamie Lidell with Jim, his out-of-nowhere soul record that came out in 2008. From the first time I listened to the lead single, “Little Bit of Feel Good,” I was transfixed by his style and his swagger, to the point that I couldn’t move past the record. Sure, I listened to Compass when it was released, but it was hard to click with the aesthetic, after falling for Warp Records’ very own in-house crooner. Jamie Lidell became a musician who made an album I enjoyed so much, I barely wanted to see what else they had in store for me (this is something I have dubbed “the Wilco Paradox,” named for my inability to click with any Wilco record that was not Yankee Hotel Foxtrot;this curse was broken by the truly-underrated Sky Blue Sky, though it was rekindled in time for Wilco (The Album) and The Whole Love). I always figured, if I went back to Multiply, I would find something I liked. After all, Warp Records did, right?

The problem with Jamie Lidell’s newest eponymous album is that, most curiously, it sounds exactly like a Warp Records album. One might see this as a good thing – which it normally would be – but I’ll explain. “I’m Selfish” starts up with a blast of bubbling synths, which sound so forced, that you’re immediately pushed out of the record, rather than in it. These tracks feel like the 80s, but they sound like the 80s as seen through the lens of an 80s California-based cop film, which is exactly what I hear when the drum-machine blorts come in on “Big Love,” and I know that I can’t be the only one. The album’s lead single, “What A Shame,” is enough of a banger to help you feel like the first two tracks weren’t a waste of your time, where Lidell crooning like I like you’d really want him to… but then, there’s the rest of the album, which made me feel like I was fighting to get to the end, rather than hoping it wouldn’t end. “Why Ya Why” comes replete with horn wails and a synth line that reminded me of someone simply hitting the demo button on their new Casio and letting it roll. Once the penultimate track, “Don’t You Love Me,” shows up, it’s hard not to feel a little relieved by a truly beautiful song. Lidell has never been the most eloquent songwriter, but he’s always made up for it with gusto – which “Don’t You Love Me” has plenty of: when he sings “We need a new direction / Cause don’t know if we can go on this way,” you genuinely feel for the heart that wrote that line, even if the soul of it comes courtesy of – for better or worse – Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately, once “In Your Mind” comes along, that soul is replaced by robot vocals and the same weak synths that made the rest of the album so difficult to get through.

Jamie Lidell is not a bad record. I know I’ve definitely made it sound that way, but it honestly isn’t. Jim was an album that has never truly left my “music to sing along to in the shower” rotation, and as such, I’ve never given his other works the time of day they deserved. It could very well be that the problem isn’t him, it’s me. There’s a charm to it, in the same way that those old 90s Warp albums had that charm. The unfortunate thing is, beneath those charms could be found layers of depth and loving craft. Jamie Lidell, in the end, sounds like your friend’s kid brother who copies everything you and your friends do in an attempt to be cool – without really bothering to understand why you do those things in the first place.

 

 
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