Retro is so today. Thus, Platinum Pied Pipers’ second album, Abundance, was fitted, shelved and archived between “Paperboy Reed” and “Russell, Alice” before it even dropped. Mighty quick for producers Waajeed and Saadiq to find themselves in such tight company. Also a shame considering their spectral credentials: from bangers (“Act Like You Know,” on their debut, Triple P) to bedroom rockers (a swell takeover of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”). Do them a solid and give ’em another pass.
Abundance then unfolds like your pusher-friend’s impulsive tapes: disheveled, cacophonous and agitated, because it can’t, won’t, go to sleep.
Her/Him: “Hey, I made you this tape.”
You: “Thanks. I didn’t ask for one.”
Her/Him: “But you’ve gotta listen to this.”
You: “Sure. I’ll listen to it later.”
Her/Him (starts teetering)” “You don’t understand: You’ve gotta listen to this.”
You: “I heard you the first time.”
Her/Him: (now shaking ) “Now.”
The record blends breaks, strings and charmed voices with carefree abandon, and little regard for convention. Smooth transitions? For the birds. The best artery-clogging synth (“Luv Affair”) should always be followed with a refreshingly crisp snare and a side of hand claps (“Go, Go, Go”). Everyone knows that. R&B? Certainly not your grandparents’ (“Rocket Science”). Nor is it even Keri’s (“On a Cloud”). Instead Abundance is holistic therapy, or a reverence toward tradition transformed into the new in sound. Space-age pop? Saadiq did rock some velvet on that Triple P photoshoot. No, this is more like a grown Max Fischer in a mink coat in the summertime — with Mrs. Cross on his arm. This is brash precocity reaching its potential.
Old friends remain friends, but the new ones also reflect this new dawn. Exit the boozy heartbreak of Tiombe Lockhart and enter the sultry Jamilia Raegan and Karma Stewart; yesterday’s Johnny Walker is now my pappy’s Chivas Royal. And writer-performer Coultrain (whose The Adventures of Seymour Liberty is a worthy afternoon delight) anchors the vast majority of the album with an earthy sensibility that keeps the songs from truly floating off into a Tangerine Dream.
Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it? A second chance? Especially when the first didn’t even scratch the surface. Shouldn’t every record motivate another listen?