It takes some patient, ear-to-the-speaker listening before Jamie Lidell's off-kilter, glitch-funk tendencies come to light on Multiply, but that sultry subtlety makes the album a repeat-play sleeper. Straight out of the box, Multiply bubbles with Stax/Volt soul, easy, husky and heartfelt, Lidell's affable vocals colored a vibrant shade of Otis Redding. The straightforward homage is a serious departure for Lidell, a genre-stretching British knob-twiddler whose previous solo work consisted of shadowy, artfully damaged downtempo and who's best known as one-half of the millennial cyberfunk duo Super_Collider. Older fans might mistake Multiply's sincerity for throwbackism -- or, worse yet, irony -- but everything here suggests that Lidell has the pipes, songwriting skills, and dedication to the masters to render his own neo-retro masterpiece.
While his able voice echoes Otis, Sly Stone, and Prince, Lidell's production frequently nods to soul-jazz arrangers like Herbie and Stevie. Still, Lidell stakes out on his own white-boy soulitude, countering summery, finger-snapping sing-alongs ("Multiply," "Music Will Not Last") with ricocheting floor-fillers ("When I Come Back Around," "New Me"). Both sides are streetwise and ecstatic, Lidell's dramatic, digitally tweaked production augmented by upright bass, horns, cowbell (yea!), and his own overdubbed backup vocals. So, yeah, you'll want to strap on headphones to slurp up every funky bleep and bass line, but make sure you've laced up your skates, too, 'cause this one's gonna move you.
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