Charlie Lewis talks the joyous, human pleasure that is Malibu.
To group half Black, half Korean Anderson .Paak (‘the dot stands for detail’) with other neo-soul crooners would be misleading. Though he shares traits with all of them, unlike Frank Ocean he sounds like he actually quite enjoys parties, unlike Miguel he sounds like sex is one his favourite parts of life, rather than the whole point of it. And unlike The Weeknd he sound like he can orgasm without bursting into tears.
Actually, the artist he most calls to mind is Prince. The late monarch is evidenced on much of music – particularly the jazz funk of Heart Don’t Stand a Chance. But his influence is philosophical, above all – .Paak has learnt that sexy, sincere and funny are not mutually exclusive; if you’re not fanning yourself at his honeyed rasp crooning ‘open your heart’ in Silicon Valley, your constitution is stronger than mine. If you don’t chuckle audible by the time he reminds you where that is (‘behind them tig ol biddies’) then your sophistication exceeds mine. The influence also extends to his belief that a girl who’s no fun on the dance floor isn’t much fun elsewhere (the disco sparkle of Am I Wrong) and the desire to party in the face of the inventible (the beautiful, understated Curtis Mayfied, soul of Celebrate).
His secondary influence (not surprising given his profile making Dr Dre collabs) is Hip Hop. His producers are luminaries like 9th Wonder, Madlib and Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli and The Game turn up for serviceable cameos.
Malibu communicates most coherent when it’s about pleasure – I can never quite parse out what .Paak is on about when he gets solemn. This is in form as much as content – On The Bird and Parking Lot, witness him rolling a single phrase around over and over, subtly altering melodic inflection and chord progressions until every drop of sweetness has been extracted.
Then there’s the spooked out single The Season/Carry Me, Kendrick Collaborator Rapsody (she’s the best of the rap guest spots) telling Paak he’s just like his mother on Without You and the razor sharp funk of Come Down, and plenty of ramshackle, cartoony pleasures besides.
His scrappy, glowing soul might not be as important or original as Frank Ocean, Miguel, or The Weeknd, but it’s as joyous and human and pleasurable an album as I’ve encountered all year. And I know who I’d rather have a cocktail with.