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Album Review: Basement Jaxx – Junto

2 min read

Basement Jaxx, responsible for Romeo, Where’s Your Head At and other classic staples on video stations, returns with its seventh album: its first since 2009’s Zephyr.

The British Grammy award-winning electronic duo has striven to ensure that the spirit of Junto fits well with the ambitious title (named after the Spanish word for ‘together’).

Basement Jaxx JuntoAfter the synthesized African tribal dance intro, a sparkling harp surrenders to the trippy house beat of Power to the People. As expected, it has the same rousing choir touches as John Lennon’s song of the same name. What is different is that Basement Jaxx’s recording (featuring soulful vocals from Niara) is a fluoro-flavoured anthem that is simply too cool for church. It is clear from the sampling of fans and even Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra of Catuera that the song aims to connect people on not only the dance floor, but also the world over.

Forget that Never Say Never’s strange video features a twerking robot and that it actually uses a real piano for a change. It has a melodic, catchy chorus echoing a bit of Womack and Womack’s Teardrops. The song’s pulsing percussion and ecstatic vocals (from ETML) also make it an easy radio-friendly first single. Now, THIS is how you shuffle, LMFAO.

There are faithful yet fresh throwbacks to 1980s synth pop on We Are Not Alone (whose swinging rhythm, wobbly synths and creepy robotic vocoder recalls a bit of Soft Cell’s version of Tainted Love) and the exuberant Summer Dem (with a rap by Patricia Panther).

The hardcore grind of Buffalo (with a rap by Mykki Blanco) is a clear call for listeners to shake it. The samba-influenced Rock This Road and seedy, flamenco-inflected Mermaid of Salinas would have been brilliant FIFA World Cup anthems, thanks to the carnival atmosphere they generate (but the Rio Olympics will be on in two years afterall).

A few lowlights include the sugary, repetitive Unicorn, the tuneless Sneakin Toronto and Something About You (which simply sounds like a Lorde or Lana Del Rey knock-off). Closer Love Is At Your Side picks things up again with guest vocalist Sam Brookes providing tight, stacked harmonies akin to those of Electric Light Orchestra over music that nicely evokes the warmth of sunrise.

The diversity of genres alone on Junto proves that the sentiment of Basement Jaxx’s latest effort really is of togetherness. This album should have little difficulty in uniting people on the dance floor and the world as a result.