8.4

Basement Jaxx: Junto Review

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Basement Jaxx: <i>Junto</i> Review

Basement Jaxx’s seventh album—the duo’s first in six years—comes along at the perfect moment. Their sparkly take on house and UK garage, perfect on tracks like “Red Alert” and “Romeo,” is currently back in vogue thanks to superstars like Disclosure and Duke Dumont. It’s long since past time for producers Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton to get back in the conversation.

The emphasis for this album is baked into its title, the Spanish word for “together.” Basement Jaxx are aiming this, once again, for the communal experience they generated so well on their namesake club nights in and around London. There are political implications (“Power To The People”) and Buxton’s apparent obsession with UFOs (“We Are Not Alone”) in the mix as well, but the chief picture they want to leave you with is a mass of sweaty, giddy bodies moving as one.

The soundtrack to this shared experience is as varied as any album they’ve put together in the past. You’ll find “Summer Dat,” a bit of sticky modern disco, complete with sexual pleas rapped in a thick Scottish brogue; “Buffalo,” a touch of trap house that cedes a bit of the spotlight to Mykki Bianco’s fevered lyrical visions; and the flamenco funk of “Mermaid of Salinas.” These three great tastes shouldn’t work this well together, but that’s been the beauty of the group’s work from the get-go: they emphasize the connections that all of us take for granted when we’re out of our heads and dancing.

The album also fails where so many other Basement Jaxx albums have failed in the past. There’s just too, too much to sift through here. Cutting three or four songs from the proceedings (can I recommend the pixie dust-covered album closer “Love Is At Your Side” as one such excision?) would do wonders for Junto and turn it into the lean batch of bangers it should be. If they’re trying to replicate the excess that sometimes comes with a night out, they’ve succeeded grandly. For home listening, on the other hand, it feels like overindulgence.

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