lidelllidellThank goodness for artistic rebounds. Jamie Lidell is back with his fifth full-length LP (his fourth for the iconic Warp label). Lidell’s first album for Warp (2005’s Multiply) artfully blended throwback soul with Lidell’s penchant for electronica. The follow up (2008’s Jim) was an unabashed, straightforward disc of romping, schoolhouse funk. 2010’s Compass took a different, darker direction that didn’t seem to hold together as a cohesive artistic statement. And I feared that with such a disappointing album, Lidell had already surpassed his creative peak.

So when a new Lidell record began blipping on the upcoming release radar, I wasn’t terribly excited. Yet as Warp and Lidell began leaking tracks, hints were that the funkier, more playful Lidell would return on the singer’s self-titled 2013 record. And indeed, with his latest album, Jamie Lidell has recouped his artistic strength and returned in full, funky force.

Following the dour tone of Compass, Jamie Lidell showcases the singer’s return to a dancier, more playful musical place, yet the album does more than simply replicate the formulae of Multiply and Jim. Jamie Lidell still has a throwback element to it, but this time Lidell’s musical referents have migrated from Memphis and Detroit to Minneapolis. Throughout, the album boasts heavy synths, jerky beats, and slinky vocal runs that sound as if Lidell dredged them from the depths of Lake Minnetonka. Songs like “Big Love” take their cues directly from the Jam and Lewis playbook — and this is a very, very good thing.

However, there’s enough 21st century spice in Lidell’s mid ’80s flavor to keep the album from being homage pure and simple. Jamie Lidell brings back the singer’s electronica roots, weaving in contemporary production styles that blend perfectly with the layers of throwback electro funk. As he’s proven in his earlier work, Lidell has a strong, soulful voice well suited for the genre, and his willingness to experiment has thusfar proven a successful means to keep us listening and dancing.

Grade: A-

Jamie Lidell is out today on Warp Records. Check out the video for “You Naked” below:

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