Jamie Lidell - Jamie Lidell

It’s unabashedly sexy, full of synthesised drum beats that sound as bright and shiny now as thirty years ago.

‘Used to make it all about me / ‘Cos baby I’m selfish’

goes the chorus of opening track ‘I’m Selfish’ on Jamie Lidell’s self-titled second album. And any irony within that album titling / opening track lyric combo isn’t present elsewhere, since Lidell does exactly what musicians like The xx and James Blake haven’t - he makes music inspired by eighties pop, electro, disco, funk and R&B, without deconstructing it. There’s no turning things on their heads, no taking things apart to constituent parts to show us how they work. Jamie Lidell sings about being a self-involved douche, about breaking hearts, and all that bad/good stuff (bad for his actual life, good for songwriting material), and he does it in unfaltering falsetto atop a densely-layered backing of bass lines, Roland 808-synthesised drum beats and keyboards that sounds as bright and shiny now as they did three decades ago.

Lidell’s main strength is in that voice, scraping the higher registers throughout every song. It’s closest sound-a-like is Prince, his falsetto cracking as it reaches the top end of its pitch in an adult (in at least two senses of the word) way rather than, say, the Purple One’s rival Michael Jackson - to whom all pop falsettos must be compared, no? - whose perfect, unwavering pitch barely changed since his days of singing ‘ABC’ and forever reflected a kind of childishness.

Like Prince, Lidell’s music is unabashedly sexy; and not in the intimate, breathy, behind-closed-doors sort of The xx, or the debauched and occasionally terrifying cesspool of their postmodern R&B peer The Weeknd. It’s just, y’know, regular, good sexy. And it’s also unabashedly pop - like how Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’ revelled in recreating fashionable sounds of the seventies that are now achingly un-cool. That means robot-voiced backing singers on ‘Do Yourself A Favour’ and wah-wah guitar funking all over ‘My Name’, a chaotic track not unlike the Gallic pair’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’.

Where Lidell might have one up on the French android duo is that he’s not sampling: he’s remaking that music himself. And he’s doing it bloody well; every song has multiple hooks, catching your brain and pulling your toes up and down to the rhythm. ‘Don’t you love me anymore?’ goes the titular refrain of the penultimate song. How could you not?

Tags: Jamie Lidell, Reviews, Album Reviews

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