The Magic Whip
Eighteen years after his last album of original material, Boy George returns in triumph.
The first thing that strikes you is George's voice. Always fabulous, it now has a weathered fruitiness – something of Antony of the Johnsons about it – the result of added years and, perhaps, a somewhat adventurous lifestyle. He's hepped up his already warm soul power. The second thing that strikes is the mammoth hook on opening track King Of Everything.
Because it's not just that lovely, pillowy voice. This Is What I Do is characterised by big song after big song. King Of Everything is a lush, soulful blockbuster, My God ("Jesus loves me don't you know!") is a committed, slow-burning waltz and Bigger Than War is a funk groove that wouldn't shame Bobby Womack.
Away from the muscular punches, George is equally comfortable with It's Easy's heartbreaking country ballad and moody Yoko Ono cover Death Of Samantha, but perhaps more interesting are his plunges back into those Culture Club reggae roots.
Live Your Life is pretty trad lovers' rock but My Star is boisterous and Nice And Slow is a little more dancehall. Most ambitious of all is Play Me, a lengthy dub throb through wobbly effects, quickfire raps and hip hop scratches. This meld of reggae and large pop moments is a sweet snapshot of a career so far – and one that promises to endure. What a lovely surprise.