Okay, it took me two plays – but I’m onside with Sparro’s latest, ‘I Wish I Never Met You’. First time round: Hmmm. Second time: The sun came out and I was up in the ether. Fair dues, this, the second single from SS’s forthcoming album Return to Paradise (out this June), is hardly a quantum leap on from his — admittedly sublime and rather fantastic — debut, but so what. This kind of gorgeousness doesn’t just grow on trees.
Where Sparro’s initial 2008 material was at least a third enthralled to earliest Prince, this time around, at least on the strength of “I Wish I’d Never Met You”, he’s shifted sideways into that parallel dawn of the ’80s electronic soul-funk groove. The classic but all too often overlooked days and thrills of SOS Band and Chaka Khan, which, by introducing conspicuous electronics into soul and funk’s ready-made form, led the way from disco’s end into the beginnings of Chicago house.
Thus, distilling the rush of disco-meets-house into a radio-friendly conventional song structure, “I Wish I’d Never Met You” delivers another pitch perfect, creamy Sparro vocal (arguably the finest, creamiest soars this side of a buxom disco mama) arriving (as he does so well) at a hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck chorus.
Which, smart boy that you are Sparro, is a gorgeous seam to mine; one that’s been toyed with a few times over the last half-decade, but never quite employed to any greater fruition: I say gorgeous because, today, producers all too often do a decent job of mining hip retro electro sounds, but invariably forget to bring forwards the soul. With their heads buried in Pro-tools and patches they miss the point of how classic edge-of-house soul was just as much about the human warmth on top.
Roll forth the album in June, Mr Sparro!