Jamie Lidell's last album, Jim, lured many new fans with its ultra-smooth retro soul vibes, but long-time listeners wondered if he'd completely turned his back on his left-field techno past. Live shows saw him bouncing back and forth between straight-up Motown and his experimental electronic one-man-band routine, but we hoped he'd figure out a way to bring the two extremes closer together.
On Compass, Lidell has done exactly that. He's sounding more Sly Stone than Otis Redding this time, which gives him room to get delightfully weird and psychedelic while still keeping everything deeply rooted in R&B. The production is dense with unidentifiable textures and woozy atmospheres draped over low-slung, sexy grooves.
Many critics have focused on all the special guests (Feist, Beck, Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, Wilco's Pat Sansone, Chilly Gonzales, members of Zeus, Nikka Costa), but those of us who've been following him from his early days know that this is pure Lidell and the album we always hoped he'd pull off.
Top track: Completely Exposed
Jamie Lidell plays Mod Club June 12.