Jamiroquai – ‘Automaton’ (Full Album Review)
Right now, you’re looking at a screen, and I’m writing these words on a computer – but we’re both being connected by technology. Jamiroquai’s new album Automaton is all about human connection in a digital world.
Jamiroquai have always been my go-to happy band. If I’m feeling crap, I just put them on – and within ten seconds or so, things are better. Shake It On is the kind of song where, if you’re listening to it while walking down the street, you’ll end up walking like a badass. There are so many layers to it, from pounding piano to immense clavs, sublime strings, Rob Harris’s super-tight guitar, and the Rhythm Section Of Doom.
Jay Kay’s lyrical skills shine through on Automaton‘s title track. There’s a really strong Daft Punk vibe going on, but the song itself is critical of the way we relate to our gadgets and gizmos. Jamiroquai have always offered food for thought – and Automaton is a perfect example of how to do that while filling dance floors at the same time.
Cloud 9 is another uplifting, upbeat instant classic. It’s bittersweet and self-assured, a display of confidence that can actually be backed up. Paul Turner’s bass provides that backup – it’s high in the mix, and it deserves to be there.
Superfresh is a rare thing – a relatively weak spot. In a club, it would be massive – but it needs time to grow on me outside the world of disco balls, lasers, and smoke machines. Hot Property, on the other hand, works perfectly well wherever you are. All you need are some bass-friendly speakers, and you’re ready to go.
Something About You is a real return to form. It’s a strutting-pace slab of serious funk that poses a challenge: Can you stay still while listening to it?
If you succeed, you’re probably dead – and the same thing goes for Summer Girl.
Paul Turner nails it on Nights Out In The Jungle. Behind the groove, it’s a dark track that comments on paparazzi harassment in a very understated way. Jay Kay’s definitely holding back on that one – but that’s understandable, given his history with the press.
Track nine – Dr Buzz – is a piece of political poetry set to still another epic groove. It’s chilled, deep, and shows that Jamiroquai haven’t lost touch with their roots. The whole band stretch out on that one – and live, Dr Buzz will probably turn into the moment where everyone gets a solo.
The jam feel continues with We Can Do It, which for me was another weak spot. It’s cool, but Vitamin is way better. There’s a distinct trip-hop taste going on, but Jamiroquai’s signature sound is still there. Plus there’s a sax solo – because why not? Vitamin is the most experimental song on Automaton – and also one of the best.
Finally, Carla is another funk monster, this time dedicated to Jay Kay’s daughter. Family comes first – and that’s why Automaton took so long to see the light of day. Jay Kay has his priorities right – and after seven years, Automaton is not going to disappoint.
95% (Essential Listening!)
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