Soulpersona and Princess Freesia have been mining a rich cache of '80s-inspired funk since 2011 saw them release The Lapdancer to praise and plaudits from groove-loving music listeners everywhere. Now the prolific pair follow up 2014’s Amalgamation (released as Soulperfreesia), and they have embarked upon another odyssey deep into the heart of throwback dance floor funk with their new set, Fast Forward.
Over the course of the album, they pull out every single staple trick that an '80s funkateer can. Cow bells, squelchy synth lines, elastic bass ripples, sax and sinuous Rhodes flourishes all jostle for position and create an atmosphere dripping in retro-funk. There’s nothing minimalistic about the wares on show here, as warmth floods from the speakers, courtesy of the melange of musicality on offer.
Early offerings like title track “Fast Forward” offer laid-back shuffling funk, while “You Did It Again” boasts clipped guitar goodness to add a much needed drop of grease to the funk. All of which slides by like Don Johnson sipping a mojito in a Ferrari on Miami Beach.
Of course, it is possible to feel slightly overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending glut of slick, perfectly delivered grooves and at times it cries out for contrasts of light and shade, to offer musical relief to the album, so that each of the solid grooves has the space to shine.
“Polyester” offers Princess Freesia the chance to deliver something other than her straight up vocals, with a clipped spoken word delivery that comes across like a smooth funk-soul “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (however bizarre that may sound). Jocelyn Brown’s vocal presence always offers up a touch of class and it is no different here on “Makes You Feel Good.”
At its heart, Fast Forward oozes with laid-back, languid funk and grooves that worm their way into the hips and ears of anyone who chooses to listen. Any shortcomings are committed due to an overeager desire to please. Some songs outstay their welcome by a minute or two, and the 15 tracks offer little variation from the blueprint of the rare grooves they so accurately mimic. But those minor flaws notwithstanding, the sheer exuberance and dedication to the groove has to be admired, embraced and welcomed. They seriously just don't make music like this anymore, but thankfully Soulpersona and Princess Freesia are in an elite club who do. So grab those skates, pop your headphones on and roller-boogie all night long.