Summing up the Basement Jaxx in one word isn’t easy. If possible, words like “revolutionary”, “pioneering”, and “original” would be at the top of the list. 2009 brings the Jaxx back to the world of new releases with a new label. Set for release in the UK on September 22 and in the US on October 6, Scars is an album that features many names that blend perfectly with the Jaxx sound. Long before acts like Girl Talk were even thought of, the duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe were busy werking away mashing this and that to a driving and demanding house beat. Easily recognized with their 2001 hit Where’s Your Head At?”, later hits with “Good Luck”, and back to the earlier “Red Alert” (just to name a few) the Jaxx have been good at making music that pushes boundaries.
Scars starts out as trademark Basement Jaxx. Self-identification in music is often times rather… annoying. Featured in all of their werx the first trax include nifty forms of self-identification, and Scars doesn’t buck the trend. The opening track includes the lyrics of Kelis, Meleka, and Chipmunk. “Raindrops” is 100% Jaxx. Being the first single released off the album, it smells exactly like something that will be remixed by DJ’s and featured on club anthem records over the course of the next five years. Overall it is a beautiful song with a little bit of sexual innuendo, making for some fun. “Saga” is arguably the best song on this album, featuring the likes of Santigold. As infectious as the lyrical content is, keeping “you’re just limiting all the possibilites” stuck in your head or “saga, saga, saga, saga, saga”, the real kicker in this track is the bassline and the mashing. “Feelings Gone” is the second single to be released, and with a pulsing sound coupled with the lyrical werks of Sam Sparro, will likely be a top 40 in the UK. The track also has tremendous upside for future remixing. The album continues, featuring Lightspeed Champion, Amp Fiddler, and (wait for it) Yoko Ono. Somehow the Jaxx managed to put some music to her poetic ramblings in “Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)”, and that speaks volumes to the talent level.
Overall, this album sits at a 3.9/5. Here’s why: There are no interludes. While the Jaxx have made this album sound more like how they have sounded in the past returning to Remedy and Rooty or even Kish Kash, and produced a musical product that is quite strong, it lacks breakout power. Featured in every album to date, these “jaxxalude’s” are a nice relief and help to break up the flow. Normally this is a bad thing, but with these guys, it’s necessary. Again, going back to the breakout sound, where the Jaxx pioneered mashing, it’s hard to one-up yourself.
Standout tracks: “Raindrops”, “Saga”, “My Turn”, “A Possibility”, and “What’s a Girl Got to Do?”
keep on keepin on