When a band attempts more than one style, I usually prefer when they mix things up in the sequence. I find the “one side this, other side that” a bit annoying. I’m not sure why I don’t like it, but it bothers me enough that I often find myself docking a point for sequencing like this. I feel that way particularly when the style I like more is on side 1.
I like the first half of this album: it is funky but it’s also the right kind of funky. What I mean by that is that it is lean: there’s guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, lead and backing vocals, and that’s it. No string sections and minimal overdubs (a guitar solo, an additional keyboard). The vocals range from smooth to very gritty. This is (mostly) how I like my funk.
But then there’s the other side of the record, the side that sounds like Curtis Mayfield. I’m not a huge fan of Mayfield’s slick sound, and I’m not a huge fan of the slick sound displayed on this record either. It’s more synth focused than Mayfield’s music, but there is a similar slick soul ballad feel.
It’s not that I mind the material, the melodies are strong on both side of the record. I pay very little attention to soul lyrics generally, but nothing here struck me as particularly below average.
My problem is the slick balladry. But also the decision to put all of it on one side, so that I start off really liking the record and then disliking it by the end of it, almost forgetting about the quality funk on the first side. If it was sequenced better I wouldn’t left with the bad taste in my mouth, though I’m not sure I’d like the album that much more.