If you were canny enough to pick up on the re-release of DJ Mehdi's superb Lucky Boy album, you should be familiar with the dusted-out jazz funk of Outlines, a French three-piece who reworked their fellow countryman's moody eponymous title track into a retro-pop anthem that Amy Winehouse would have sold her liver for. And two years before that was their tastemaker favourite, “Just a Lil'Lovin',” a track that made Gilles Peterson, Peter Kruder and King Britt go giddy with jazz-funk fever. So it goes without saying that there are a lot of people waiting for Outlines to drop a debut album.
So here it is. Recorded in Clignancourt, the Parisian area made famous by Cassius and Daft Punk, Our Lives Are Too Short is one of the best new school jazz albums in recent memory, with fifteen tracks that range from broken beat (“Matter of Time”) to retro funk (“Back to 1984″). There's also a few well worked hip-hop collaborations, most notably a cameo from Wu Tang maestro RZA who adds some bugged-out observations to “Now That I'm Free,” a soul-drenched up-tempo excursion that also showcases the subtle vocal power of lead singer Irfane.
While it's a little long at 55 minutes, and has the tendency to repeat itself sometimes, on the whole this is a well-realised album from a talented group that will go down a treat at civilised summer parties across the globe.