Thursday, 14 February 2008

Jamie Lidell: I'll have a dance please, Jim

I don’t think I’m alone in getting all hot under the collar at the prospect of new albums from this century’s kings of dancefloor soul, Jamie Lidell and Plantlife. Both’s sophomore sets are scheduled for release in April, making Spring 2008 potentially a vintage season for hot new elpees (you can also look forward to albums from Maurice Fulton - under his Syclops guise - Hercules & Love Affair, the Juan MacLean and Kelley Polar).

Imagine my excitement, then, when both the Plantlife and Jamie Lidell sets landed at Tricky Disco Towers this morning? Helpfully our office CD player is on the blink, so I’ve spent the last few hours with my headphones on and the volume cranked up, submerging myself in the deep fried funk, high octane soul and P-funk flavas of two of dance music’s most remarkable talents.

We’ll start with Lidell’s ‘Jim’, which is due for release on April 28th on Warp Records. It’s a truly remarkable set, full of unashamedly euphoric songs – the kind that make you want to jump out of your seat, punch the air and sing along at high volume with a pained, Stevie Wonder-ish look on your face.

Opening with the positive soul vibration of ‘Another Day’ (think ‘Multiply’ with gospel choirs), Lidell works his way through a string of piano-heavy, hands-in-the-air retro-soul anthems. There’s the ‘Waiting In Vain’ goes Blues Brothers throwdown of ‘Wait For Me’, the orgasmic funk build of ‘Out Of My System’ and the stomping funk rock wig-out that is ‘Hurricane’. As is traditional, Lidell gets his Prince on for the P Funk-and-piano jam ‘Figure Me Out’, a strutting peacock of a track that sounds like it came straight out of Paisley Park in the mid ’80s. Only better.

Of course, it’s not all about tub-thumping Motown-ish screamers. Lidell shows his sensitive side with the superb ‘All I Wanna Do’, perhaps his most heart-achingly sweet track yet. Even better is ‘Rope Of Sand’, a track so atmospheric and melancholic it’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It’s almost painfully beautiful, and the perfect end to a dazzling sophomore set. Lidell is already something of a star, but ‘Jim’ could send him stellar – it’s a wonderful set.

As for Plantlife, expect some thoughts on that in the next few days. With 19 tracks covering a myriad of styles, it takes a few listens to get a handle on. I can tell you that it's a belter, though - definitely one to keep an eye out for come April.

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