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.
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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