Compass - Jamie Lidell
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. As on any good Beck record, Compass finds time for everything from R&B to hard rock to the type of gut-bucket experimental rock that Tom Waits would be proud of. The big difference is in the vocal performances. It's clear that Lidell is wearing his heart on his sleeve here, and we see a portrait of a person, not a personality.
  2. Please allow yourself to get lost in its sweeping scope of wonder because it is definitely sprawling. But mostly, we knew he’d be diverse, we just didn’t know it would be this good.
  3. It's true Lidell darts from one scene to the next, and not every moment earns its place. Yet it all makes a curious kind of sense in Compass' vivid canvas.
  4. A curious state of affairs on the surface, this is no empty exercise in muso accomplishment. Lidell’s voice is a thing of wonder, a match for or indeed bettering many of R‘n’B’s mainstream performers.
  5. Though Compass initially seems like the least interesting song on the album, that’s the beauty of the surprises in store.
  6. Even as his piecework band stretches the sound in unexpected directions, Lidell--like a peculiar cross of Prince and Otis Redding--remains confidently true to his soul vision, creating a tense musical discourse that wrings raw emotion from each eclectic track.
  7. 80
    Lidell's bluesy wail goes head-to-head with a dense, churning groove in what can best be described as anti-R&B. [June 2010, p. 97]
  8. 80
    Lidell's vocals are alternately anguished and joyous but always supple. It's quite a ride. [May 2010, p.97]
  9. 80
    Although Compass is certainly different from his other albums, it’s also just as certainly distinctly Jamie Lidell, and just the latest step in an ever-growingly impressive career.
  10. Though his voice remains vintage, his creative spirit has been rejuvenated. [Jul 2010, p.127]
  11. Lidell has been through a lot in his personal life since the last album, and it seems that has prompted a rethink on his music - a turn in direction back to the less predictable, more incendiary writing of Multiply and his days with Supercollider. It suits him to be back in that place.
  12. Compass won't bring Lidell the crossover success he richly deserves, but it is an outstanding document of a restless artist's quest to reinvent his chosen medium. Running in place is for suckers anyway.
  13. He’s sounding more Sly Stone than Otis Redding this time, which gives him room to get delightfully weird and psychedelic while still keeping everything deeply rooted in R&B.
  14. Lidell’s voice easily shifts from soul melisma to a more gruff, linear style, although several amped-up numbers (“You Are Waking,” “Gypsy Blood”) feel inert. Luckily, most of the album sticks to the kind of warped romantic confections and wild, simmering vamps he does best.
  15. While Compass, due partially to its longer track list, features a few duds that prevent it from surpassing the superior Jim, the album still shows Lidell as indie’s best answer to Robin Thicke and his compatriots, artists Lidell bests on a regular basis.
  16. 75
    It's the defiantly weird edges that make Compass cohere.
  17. There’s atmosphere, sure, but it’s less sad-guy sitting room and more 22nd-century juke joint.
  18. If there’s one major complaint to be made, it’s that Compass is simply overlong. These fourteen songs are proof that there is far more longevity in Lidell’s work, even if at over fifty minutes too many moments seem frivolous or forgettable compared to the striking highs.
  19. Though he offers some of his most impressive and experimental numbers to date, due to Compass’s continual up-and-down nature it’s unlikely to make the impression of either of his two previous albums.
  20. His fourth solo album is a disc of elegantly warped love songs: Cut with help from Beck, Feist and Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, Compass keeps up Lidell's blend of creamy come-ons and fuzzy beats.
  21. 70
    At times, Lidell seems determined to overcrowd his genuinely soulful and lyrically strong music, whether it's with silly, pitched-down vocals ("Your Sweet Boom"), laptoppy clicks, squiggles, and washes ("She Needs Me"), or blasts of aggro rock ("You Are Walking").
  22. 70
    Thankfully, none of Lidell's guests do much to blunt his funky trajectory. [Spring/Summer 2010, p.108]
  23. In truth he doesn’t always seem to know his bearings, but he manages to make his confusion compelling.
  24. Tracks like the punk-lite “You Are Waking’’ collapse under the weight of their ambitions, but on the whole Lidell should be admired for his adventurous musical fusions.
  25. Even if such song structures are less conventional and more of an acquired taste than those found on Jim, there is a continuity between the two albums that will satisfy both devoted and new fans alike. However, the best way to appreciate Compass is to follow the bread crumbs Jamie Lidell leaves on the trail and be prepared for anything.
  26. This is a transitional record, an in-betweener, one that Lidell may eventually look back on as a door to something else. The good news for all of us is that even when he's down, he's not out.
  27. Britain’s foremost whiteboy funkateer has learned enough since his 2005 major label debut ‘Multiply’ for ‘Compass’ to pull off a neat trick. With his heart as his guide, Lidell gives us a tour of soul through his geographically-removed ears.
  28. Both unapologetically sex-drenched, and featuring the occasional bout of weirdness not seen since Raw Digits, his 2002 side-project with Super_Collider, Compass occasionally drifts too far, its coordinates everywhere at once.
  29. Berlin based electro crooner ratchets up the goo factor.
  30. To wit, what irritates most about Compass is the way it assaults the listener with wave after wave of sonic winks, of moments intended to be witty or clever that instead fall flat. Busy and fussily filtered at every turn, I guess it’s ‘crazy’ sounding or something, but there’s nothing communicated in the slightest.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. May 10, 2013
    8
    In 2010, Jamie Lidell found a new direction. And it was appropriately called Compass. Representing a perfect blend of all the styles he’d employed in his career to date, the album paints a thick, gritty picture from the outset. Opener “Completely Exposed” begins with Lidell singing over a heavily affected beat-box before the grimey, lurching track drops in, featuring some kind of sampled riff that sounds like a saw-player picked up a two-by-four on accident. Lidell intones “I don’t wanna be closed, but opening up has left me completely exposed”. Whether the lyric references his new-found fame, or his production collaborations on the record (including Beck, Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, Lindsey Rome, Robbie Lackritz), the vulnerability seems to be doing him some good. “Your Sweet Boom” follows, an exceptional song in concept and execution, even managing to employ a pitched-down verse vocal and still maintain emotional substance (that is some kind of feat, let me tell you). As Lidell sings “We don’t need no armor for protection”, the recurring theme of vulnerability is overtaken by a rallying of the troops, swept up in a swell of shimmering synths and ascending vocals.

    The pacing on the album is diplomatic, spreading the highs and lows evenly throughout, and while it makes for a distributed listening experience, I feel like some of the tracks could have been repositioned. “She Needs Me”, while a compelling slow jam in its own right, totally wastes the momentum built by “Your Sweet Boom”. Fortunately “I Wanna Be Your Telephone” rebounds quickly with a blip-bloopy boogie and sampled scenery, followed by “Enough Is Enough”, a gem of a tune that sounds like a young Stevie Wonder revving up the Sesame Street block party. The stomp-clap heave of “The Ring” features another unrecognizable sound (vocal? guitar?) squeezing out a squirmy, dusty riff. It’s one of many examples of the truly unique and captivating textures Lidell creates on Compass, often allowing him to prop up potentially bland melodic moments with sonic intrigue.

    Another album highlight arrives with the twelfth track, “Coma Chameleon”, which serves as an example of everything Lidell does best. The huge, Zeppelin-esque drum intro gives way to Rhythm Nation-style churchbell hits. The understated chorus creeps along an eighth-note bounce with horn chops and a devious earworm hook: “Coma chameleon If you ever wake up you will see what you have done”. The song is a stylistic achievement, simultaneously showcasing Lidell’s studio creativity, vocal panache, and songwriting ability elements that are present all throughout Compass, but don’t consistently enjoy perfect alignment like they do here.

    Ultimately, Compass isn’t a perfect record, but it is a bold statement. Having tried his hand at genre-homage, Lidell seems to have found the blueprint for an effective marriage of his electro-producer past and blue-eyed soul frontman present. The results are compelling and boast gobs of potential. Here’s to hoping Lidell shares my view of Compass as a singular success, and moreover, continues down this trail that he is truly blazing all on his soulful lonesome.
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  2. Aug 29, 2010
    10
    This album is Maroon 5 on LSD. and I love it. lots of shots are fired, and although many of them miss the mark, the moments of brilliance are well worth wading through the interstitial, often cluttered, but usually thoughtful r&b/acid grooviness. the mood of
    compass shifts from neurotic and dark acid funk to elated church-soul, ultimately painting Lidell's complicated psychology. The highs portray an almost campy exhuberance while the lows are as dense and complex as the many devices he uses to modify and deconstruct his clearly virtuosic voice. indeed,
    as Lidell croons "we dont need no armor for protection", the listener is reminded that there are few pretenses in the way of the vision Lidell seeks to convey, or rather, unapologetically confesses. above all, the beat, when, although intermitently, firmly in place, carries us through some very catch hooks and funk **** the album is definitely worth investing some time into, as I'm sure every listener will be able to take something worthwhile away from the wide and varied catalog of songs that compass has to offer.
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