What happens when you mix a bit of Gorillaz-type rock, with some Groove Armada/Basement Jaxx beats, throw in a tad of DJ Shadow spirits and spice things up with Neptures-level production? Sounds like a pastiche? Well, with a sound that mixes all the feels just described, applied to some carefully chosen samples, RJD2 has come up with the most fascinating eclectic album in a long time!
This has been my first exposure to his music (and certainly not the last one, after what I've heard). From the riffs in the opening title track, you realize you are not in front of a regular production. "Exotic Talk" starts out like a song by Gorillaz and takes on a life of its own with some grandieuse guitar and keys work. "1976" is one of the funkiest tracks on the album, with some contagious percussion and horns that will get you grooving. "Ringer Finger" toys with samples from a bossanova piece, distorting it to the point of making it tough to recognize. "Making Days Longer" is arguably the weakest piece in the album, but even so, it does not leave you unsatisfied.
When you feel the album can't get any better, the best is yet to come. "Someone's Second Kiss" (very reminiscent of DJ Shadow), "To All of You" (a fairly straight up R&B-based track), "Clean Living" (a very Groove Armada-like track), "Iced Lighting" and "Through the Walls" (the two most memorable moments in the album) are each incredible works. "One Day" takes it all back home with a sound that reminds of the Midas touch of the Neptunes (but without them present to work their magic).
In sum, with this third release, RJD2 has established himself as an act to keep our eyes on. Labeled by some as instrumental hip-hop (a term that sounds too limiting to me, to describe such a wide effort), this is, by far, one of the best albums released in 2004.