It's been five long years since Basement Jaxx released their last album, 'Zephyr'. A lot has happened in the dance music scene in such a relatively short space of time, so the big question is, with their latest record 'Junto', can they remain relevant pitted against the competition?
Opening with the inventively named 'Intro', a cacophony of African-sounding tribal beats and chants draws you in and makes you feel like you're about to be initiated into something pretty special. Straight from one continent to another, the following track 'Power To The People' leaps into one big samba party. Had the album been released a couple of months earlier encompassing lyrics such as "let's come together and do something amazing", it would have provided a great soundtrack to the World Cup. With Brazilian beats, a hint of steel drums and trumpets galore, this song is sure to keep the summer going even once the weather argues otherwise. Second single 'Unicorn' features a catchy electronic foundation which skips its way through the track behind the conventional female vocals, while another commercially-appealing track on the album sits in the form of 'Never Say Never', which you can easily imagine being played in clubs as well as doing well in the charts. In this it seems the Jaxx duo can't quite escape dance hits of the past, as the tune the chorus lyrics accompany could quite easily be confused with Lovestation's classic version of 'Teardrops'.
As the album progresses, the party continues, but with slightly less panache than its opening few tracks; though, granted, this is a trait that even some of the best bands can find their albums succumbing to. 'Rock This Road' transports us swiftly back to the Brazilian beaches, though this is more like the sort of beach rave you might leave in search of something better after a couple of drinks. Luckily, while the final tracks 'Something About You' and 'Love Is At Your Side' slow the pace down a notch, it's not in a disappointing way - instead they resemble calmer friends who are there to chill out with you at the end of a crazier night.
Overall, this is a solid effort from Basement Jaxx, and there are some sure-fire winners tucked amongst the 13 tracks that comprise this latest release. While these may not quite live up to some of their more popular and well-known predecessors, there's definitely enough evidence here to demonstrate this duo can still compete with the best of them.
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