Yeah, OK, Jamie Lidell’s new EP (spun off from his most recent album Compass) is kind of dumb. Despite his obvious craftsmanship, there’s an awkwardness and a very Warp-roster brand of cheekiness to Lidell’s neo-soul come-ons that he never quite overcomes. What makes “I Wanna Be You Telephone” click regardless is the song’s deft production—dig the sort-of-goofy vocalized phone rings and dial tones, the errant synth blurts, and the slick, needling groove—and Lidell’s own force of conviction, which allows him to put across a number of vocal hooks that might otherwise fall flat. It’s a very delicate balance that makes the track work, which is reinforced by a comparison with the less-effective pair of remixes (one of the title track and the other of the Compass album cut “You Are Waking” by Bill Youngman) that fill out the EP. Even when his reach exceeds his grasp on this record, though, Lidell continues to demonstrate a keen aptitude for constructing infectious jams.
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