The ’80s are crawling out of their grave and boogie-ing like a Michael Jackson video. Boy George, ambiguous leader of the iconic Culture Club did the usual rehab/rediscovery circuit for a few years, and returns with a decidedly updated musical sound.
Adopting the remix tactics of the ’90s and a lush, droopy sound, he keeps to the trendy Brit-Rasta groove and ties a spacey deep house beat to a whiff of the Jamaican. He samples Obama (“Yes We Can”), manipulates blue-green alien voices (“Amazing Grace”), and covers oldies (“Go Your Own Way”), all with a fluid and practiced hand. Reminiscent of the post-disco, early rave years, Boy George and Kinky Roland don’t take the build and drop energy modulation to its extreme, but use it in moderation. You feel there’s more energy available here, but it’s held back — sort of like driving a Corvette though a school zone. Jingles of harsher beats and Boy George’s vocals take on an urgent quality in “Time Machine,” and what record would be complete without a featured artist? Phillip Something adds street cred on “Seconds.” It’s a nice contrast to George’s softer vocals, and leads the back half of this collection down into the late night death of Danceteria or some equally hipped up joint.
It’s good to see Mr. George alive and working; he’s had rough times, but it’s honed and deepened his music. I doubt we’ll see him dancing through any more pop music videos on cable, but he’s transitioned into the 21st century with enough of a gap that most people will take him for what he’s doing now, not what he did a generation ago.
The Orchard: www.theorchard.co.uk/music/new-releases