Paolo Nutini is back on the music scene after four years without new releases and performing at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony concert.
Its intro suggests a futuristic arrangement, with a processed guitar hit and whacky retro single-note synths taken from the Bee Gees’ pre-Saturday Night Fever album, Children of the World. Instead, the track is a by-the-book tribute to 1970s soul, including the big sound of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and David Bowie’s Young Americans.
Nutini’s gravelly yet clear vocals may recall a bit of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Most of the elements for a soul track are there: a steady rhythm, loud horns, thick female background vocals, guitar riffs, shouts of ‘sweet hallelujah’ and a catchy chorus. However, the theme is cliched as Nutini labels a girl various predictable objects (‘she’s the bass, she’s the rhythm…she’s my rock…she’s the church, she’s the sin’). The chorus doesn’t really have much of a chance to grow on listeners, as Nutini rapidly shifts from verse to chorus to verse.
The bridge features some momentum-killing rapping about climaxing and weed. Fortunately, Nutini’s passionate vocal delivery as the bridge transitions to the final chorus redeems the track and proves that he should just stick with singing.
Scream (Funk My Life Up) is an enjoyable groove on its own. It is certainly more raw than the soulless blue-eyed soul on the charts today. Nevertheless, it doesn’t add much to the soul genre, so listeners may still be curious about what real soul music actually sounds like.