Icebird: The Abandoned Lullaby

RJ's Electrical Connections

Definitive Jux was once the most venerable imprint in underground hip-hop. With a stacked roster that included Aesop Rock and flagship rapper/producer El-P, Def Jux carved out a militantly urgent voice. Between 2001 and 2007, no one hip-hop label released a more impressive volume of great albums. In-house producer RJD2 is now one-half of the psychedelic soul duo Icebird. But whereas RJD2's older records were usually saucer-eyed documents of paranoia, new album The Abandoned Lullaby combines mellow glitch-pop with the R&B wailing of Philadelphia's Aaron Livingston. Much of the album builds on the rich soul of groups like the Manhattans to create an unrepentantly '70s vibe. "Wander" is the kind of track Edwin Starr might've written after congesting a shroom smoothie. The brassily melancholic "Just Love Me" is rivaled only by the trippy Vietnam-era funk of "Gun for Hire." With his classically soulful voice, Livingston sounds dispatched from an era long since bygone. (4 out of 5 stars)