If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Jamie Lidell has just paid Prince one of the biggest compliments in pop history. On his new, self-titled album, the U.K. electronic-soul artist seems hell-bent on recreating every sonic nook and cranny of the Purple One’s Reagan-era catalogue, rolling out a non-stop barrage of the analogue synth flourishes that were so prevalent on 1999, Purple Rain, and Around the World in a Day.
On his previous release, 2010’s Compass, Lidell hinted at this ’80s R&B fixation; here, he succumbs to it completely. The formula works, especially if you’ve spent any part of the 21st century pining for vintage Prince. Like his tiny idol, Lidell piles on the tasty hooks until resistance becomes futile: “I’m Selfish,” “Big Love,” and “You Know My Name” are especially dance-floor friendly. On “Do Yourself a Faver,” he takes a slight left turn by evoking the spirit of iconic funk acts Cameo and the Zapp Band, even employing the old-school talk-box à la Roger Troutman.
Lidell’s joy in immersing himself in this sleek sound is infectious, and he somehow avoids merely aping his artistic superior. Until Prince decides once again to craft material as lively and accessible as this, Lidell’s non-stop dance party is a more-than-acceptable substitute.
Playlist picks: “I’m Selfish,” “Big Love,” “Do Yourself a Faver”
Jamie Lidell plays Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.) on Apr. 8.