Hey, I love Veckatimest as much as the next wimp, but the prospect of Grizzly Bear multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor’s offering production to the latest album from Jamie Lidell didn’t seem promising when it was announced earlier this year. After all, Lidell has spent the past half-decade effecting an unlikely transition from introspective IDM nerd to extroverted R&B dude, and Taylor isn’t exactly known for his soul-music bona fides.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in fearing a Lidell record longer on gauzy atmosphere than on block-rocking beats. Well, my bad — Compass is actually the former Super_Collider frontman’s funkiest outing yet, with no shortage of booty-shaking bass, gritty drum grooves, or gnarly vintage-keyboard textures. (In addition to Taylor, the expansive supporting cast here includes Beck, Chilly Gonzales, and Nikka Costa.)
The album also has some of Lidell’s most memorable songs, such as the trippy opener, “Completely Exposed” (with Leslie Feist on shouts), and “She Needs Me,” a lovely approximation of Diamonds and Pearls–era Prince. There’s atmosphere, sure, but it’s less sad-guy sitting room and more 22nd-century juke joint.