Album Review

Jamie Lidell, 'Compass'

May 17, 2010

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After getting his start as an electronica DJ in his native England, Jamie Lidell confounded listeners when he stepped in front of the mike and delivered a one-two punch of blue-eyed soul albums (2005’s “Multiply’’ and 2008’s “Jim’’). Lidell’s third studio effort, “Compass,’’ transcends mere Motown homage: This unsettling record is the indie-rock answer to Sly Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On,’’ with warped vocals, twitchy polyrhythms, and tensely funky instrumentation. Assisted by co-producer Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear, Lidell doesn’t bounce between genres so much as etch out his own, from the garbage-can gospel of “The Ring’’ to the skittery, shape-shifting rocker “Gypsy Blood.’’ The singer has expanded his white-boy croon to intriguing effect, sounding by turns romantic, vulnerable, and angry, especially on “Big Drift,’’ a harmony-rich dirge featuring Beck, Feist, and Taylor. Tracks like the punk-lite “You Are Waking’’ collapse under the weight of their ambitions, but on the whole Lidell should be admired for his adventurous musical fusions. With “Compass,’’ he may be able to persuade even the most jaded hipster to locate his inner Sly. (Out tomorrow)


ESSENTIAL “Big Drift’’