In the five years since Daft Punk reminded everyone how exceptional Chic were with the ubiquitous Get Lucky and parent album, Random Access Memories – to which Nile Rodgers also contributed – they’ve rarely been so namedropped, his trademark guitar licks now a go-to for countless acts. We’ve rarely needed lifting this much, either, or not since Chic helped us forget our woes in the late 1970s anyway. So, one thing’s certain: It’s About Time is well named.

In its attempt to sound relevant, though it’s sometimes misguided. The album’s peppered with cameos by guests who one can’t help feel haven’t yet earned their place in such hallowed surroundings. NAO may have earned success alongside Disclosure, but her helium-fuelled voice sounds shrill here, rendering instructions to Boogie All Night predictable, and that Sober arrives afterwards in the same key helps no more than Craig David and Stefflon Don battling rhythms that, despite aspiring to Janet Jackson’s Control, lack that classic’s discipline.

Elton John, meanwhile, is harder to find on Queen than Wally, his vocals lost amid Emeli Sandé’s histrionics and the sluggish, sub-par Prince groove, not to mention tiresome lyrics in which a girl’s “turned sweet 16”, a detail celebrated with “A stimulating kiss/ That felt like in a dream”. Even State Of Mine – which begins promisingly with slick strings and a welcome disco swagger – disintegrates into muzak, though smooth-jazz champion Philippe Saisse can probably be held responsible. Fortunately, the pacey Do You Wanna Party overcomes its hackneyed sentiment thanks to a playful arrangement and LunchMoney Lewis’ energetic flow, and the sheer joy of opener Till The World Falls – which packs its credits with Mura Musa, Cosha and Vic Mensa, and boasts a memorable breakdown – ensures what follows is at least temporarily invigorated by simple virtue of living in its shadow. Yet nothing outshines Rodgers’ reworked I Want Your Love, its melody carefully enunciated by Lady Gaga. For all its good intentions, It’s About Time is best when it’s about the past.

Review: Nile Rodgers & Chic - It's About Time

Written by Wyndham Wallace. Released on Virgin EMI.


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