Jamie Lidell’s first solo album ‘proper,’ Multiply (most people ignore his electronica debut Muddlin’ Gear) felt like the ultimate in guilty pleasures the first time you heard it: ridiculously joyous soul and R&B re-takes that borrowed enough Surrealism from Super_Collider (his duo with Cristian Vogel) to stop things from devolving to a thankless game of ‘spot the reference. ’ Subsequent listens revealed an anxious, unsettled heart buried deep beneath the flesh, and songs like “The City” or “When I Come Back Around,” worried away at the stress-head man-machine interface of Sly circa Riot, or Prince circa Sign O’ the Times – though they’re not comparable on qualitative terms, mind you: what could be? But let’s cut to the chase: Jim is a huge disappointment. With the exception of the giddy rush of “Hurricane,” all of Multiply’s uncertainty and tetchy energy is missing, replaced with too-friendly soul sides that flick all the right switches, draw on all the right period pieces, but lack any real fire.
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