Whenever I think of BASEMENT JAXX, the first thing that comes to mind (other than half of the parties I went to in high school) is the cover artwork of “Rooty”. The branch-chomping gorilla seems to be burned into my subconscious forever.
Their music is just as unforgettable. Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe are what I affectionately refer to as a “kitchen sink” band; they can throw anything and everything onto an album and make it not only work, but memorable. Unfortunately, Felix and Simon muddle the magic touch on their first album in 4 years, Junto.
The opening tracks have a pretty decent bounce and a good blend of electronic beats, tribal drums and Latin rhythms, but do little more to excite me. The upbeat and hopeful lyrics of “Power To The People” -“If we come together, we can do something amazing”- share some nice, yet unoriginal sentiments. But have faith, dear listeners, the duo starts to shakes off the rust soon enough.
Spacey beats and vocals give “We Are Not Alone” a wonderful, otherworldly vibe. “Summer Dem” (featuring MC Patricia Panther) has a great funk/disco emphasis, while Mykki Blanco’s craggy, straight up hip-hop on “Buffalo” adds variety to the album (you can almost see the bare kitchen by this point).
The dance train continues with “Sneakin Toronto”, a perfect house equation: great electronic beats + upbeat lyrical fragments = awesome. Then, ”Something About You” pleasantly switches up the album’s pace with a minimalist beat.
Honestly though, the last 2 tracks put me to sleep. “Mermaid of Salinas” plods along despite a good Latin/Flamenco groove. However, it trumps the clunky “Love is At Your Side,” which should have just been dropped into the garbage disposal.
Overall, the album’s standard Basement Jaxx sound and upbeat messages will at least keep their faithful followers dancing, but I doubt it will win over any new fans.