Jamiroquai - Automaton (2017)

Jamiroquai
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Jamiroquai - Automaton

Imagine an oblong, intergalactic funk-fueled roller rink, tricked out with shiny chrome fixtures, a spinning globe, and a skilled DJ layering eras of funk and pop and soul over trippy, acid-infused beats. In the hands of the unskilled it would be a scattered mess, but for Jamiroquai, it’s their mastered signature style.  For over 20 years, the British acid jazz/R&B collective has earned acclaim, awards and become a forerunner in the evolving genre.

There have only been a few constants in the repertoire of Jamiroquai; its enigmatic front man, Jay Kay, and the willingness of the band, in past and present forms, to explore and experiment with a cornucopia of influences, established or not. Concepts ranging from abstract to tangible regale the fans and sustain their devotion throughout, as evidenced in the fervor surrounding their just-released eighth studio CD, Automaton.  

Jamiroquai - Automaton

Imagine an oblong, intergalactic funk-fueled roller rink, tricked out with shiny chrome fixtures, a spinning globe, and a skilled DJ layering eras of funk and pop and soul over trippy, acid-infused beats. In the hands of the unskilled it would be a scattered mess, but for Jamiroquai, it’s their mastered signature style.  For over 20 years, the British acid jazz/R&B collective has earned acclaim, awards and become a forerunner in the evolving genre.

There have only been a few constants in the repertoire of Jamiroquai; its enigmatic front man, Jay Kay, and the willingness of the band, in past and present forms, to explore and experiment with a cornucopia of influences, established or not. Concepts ranging from abstract to tangible regale the fans and sustain their devotion throughout, as evidenced in the fervor surrounding their just-released eighth studio CD, Automaton.  

The twelve tracks, though varied in approach, all revolve around the same trains of thought: sifting through the digitized, artificial boundaries of technology for glimpses of honesty and human touch. Precision-heavy beats morph into rapture, world-weary heartbreak and nostalgia for what was lost in the DMs (or that vague-as-hell 2 AM drunken text, whichever one happened first). There’s the pulsating bubble-gum-flavored “Superfresh,” the taut Raydio-recalling uptempo, “Something About You,” and the saucy, flirtatious “Summer Girl,” a heady Roll Bounce-meets-Brothers Johnson ode to the neighborhood fox: “She don’t care for money, she’s got all she needs/got legs like liquid honey, eyes the color of the sea.” 

“Cloud 9” is a glib kiss-off that starts off cloaked in a confused, hurting haze, but then gives way to a sparkling sayonara: “Now when the rain falls upon my head, don’t think of you that much at all/Just one thing seemed to make you care/who’s gonna drive and take you home.”

Alternating between butterfly collar-ready soul/hip-hop hybrids (“Nights Out In The Jungle”), acid-drizzled electronica (“Shake It On,” the title track) and poppy, funky ditties (“Vitamin,” “Hot Property”), Automaton grafts old-school analog influences over deftly-executed and digitized musings of the eternal human dilemma: a yearning to connect, a reluctance to reveal oneself and the agonizing, echoing spaces in-between. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 

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