As if the Prince we know and love from the early 80s has been super-naturally coerced into twiddling the knobs for this, High Life arrives on the scene as a fully-formed and wonderfully zesty slab of exuberant keyboard-driven funk. It bubbles, buzzes and swells its way across three and a bit fun minutes of synth brass and wobbly bass that’s brimming with pop nous.
The retro flavours are pushed to the front of the sound, while Wendy’s warm, human and slightly throaty tones grace the melody with a delicious enthusiasm. She’s got a fizzy vibrato which adds extra vim to proceedings and adds an individual texture to the vocals.
Intelligently mixed, with loads of space for the individual parts to breathe and shine, it’s somehow bright and shiny without sounding overloaded. A skillful job.
Whilst the playing/programming of the keyboards is tremendous, the tight, clipped guitar work is a funky treat, locking into the beat with a precision that keeps toes tapping and ears piqued. The faux scratches and fantastic anticipatory choice of chord between the song’s sections is nothing short of masterful.
Repeat listens reward, as the full scope of the textures and separation within the arrangement really start to shine through. It’s a derivative piece, sure, and whilst it would be easy to reference artists or tracks that High Life reminds you of, it seems churlish to do so – the ease, fun and artistry on display are so compelling that they ride roughshod over any implied criticism that comparisons might make.
It’s a tremendous, accomplished slice of nostalgia-drenched songwriting that puts a big smile on my face.