19 October, 2011@5:39 pm
RJD2 never seems to be satisfied. With each consecutive album, we’ve seen him reinvent himself; never anything terribly drastic, but each record building upon the foundation laid by it’s predecessor. With his latest project, Icebird, RJ teams with vocalist Aaron Livingston – perhaps the missing link in his quest to find the perfect singer to match his beats.
The album begins with a classically styled RJ beat on the catchy “A Charmed Life”, which introduces Livingston’s raspy soul over a collage of rusty piano keys, dirty drums, and funky synths. We get elements of this classic RJ sound all over the record, such as on the bluesy “Wander”, but RJ has progressed beyond his old styles, trying several new ones on for size. For the most part all of it works, even if he goes off into deep space on the electronically driven “Return of Tronson” or does his best Combustible Edison impression on “Spirit Ache”. The influences of his favorite artists come through at numerous times – such as on “Gun For Hire”, which sounds perhaps like Livingston’s take on a Kurt Cobain, or the acoustic “In Exile”, which carries some Radiohead influence.
But at the end of the day, it’s still RJ, as he always defies expectation and takes those influences in entirely new directions. “I’m Green” might sound Hendrix-esque at first, but RJ turns it into a whole new experience with unexpected breakdowns. And Aaron’s sort-of Lyrics Born-Meets-Sting styled vocals, meshed with cryptic-yet-clever lyrics work well, especially on tracks like the ultra catchy “Going And Going. And Going”. This album is all over the place, but it’s direction becomes abundantly clear after repeated listens.
Is Aaron Livingston the magic collaborator RJD2 has been searching for his entire career? Whether the general public embraces it in a Gorillaz sort of way remains to be seen. Either way, don’t sleep on this Lullaby.
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