June 1, 2006

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Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor
Capitol Records, 2006

The most appropriate film for a soundtracking by Hunt’s retro funkpop would be a positive but palpably edgy urban joint set in the '70s, say a Boyz in the Hood where the bad guys are trying to unload something more socially graceful than crack — a Compton Boogie Nights maybe. Like Jamie Lidell, Hunt is passionate about Motown in general and leaves gangsta tomato-sauce operatics to those who can’t think of anything else; his radar is permanently locked onto Prince and Terence Trent D’Arby in particular, even to the point of dressing himself like a goth bellhop. Oozing purpleness, Hunt rubs his naughty bits with rapt fixation right from the top with “If I Take You Home,” a stubbornly risqué Smoky Robinson deconstruction for Myspacers featuring toothy guitars shimmering in a wah and phase-shifted asphalt mirage. “Hot Stage Lights” marches to a “Head”-like falsetto chorus after fantasizing pornographic in the “Brick House” tradition of the Commodores, a theme that’s amplified in the just-walked-into-the-party jumble of voices and instruments that sets up the laid-back jive of “Suspicion.” B-

Eric W. Saeger


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