Written by: Sherryn Daniel, Special to CC2K
British dance-pop duo Basement Jaxx’s—Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe—fifth album, Scars, came out in September with the heavily promoted single “Raindrops” stealing air waves at top clubs and dance halls. It’s also the only song on the new album that doesn’t share production or performance credits, as the rest of Scars is chock-full of guest stars.
Basement Jaxx are known for usually having half of their albums stuffed with guest collaborators, but Scars seems suffocated. The album presents a wide range of genres, but it lacks the precision of a band not dabbling beyond their own range.
Basement Jaxx became huge in 2001 with Rooty and the singles “Romeo” and “Where’s Your Head At?” Their albums in between haven’t sparked as much attention by word of mouth or on the dance floor, but perhaps on reputation alone, Kish Kash won them a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2004.
Scars has major name dropping and more focus on song writing as opposed to earlier Basement Jaxx, which tended toward more club work than pure pop tracks. It blends pop and soul into a memorable concoction at times, but the disjointed aesthetic created by so many guests leaves an overall subdued impression.
My personal favorite track is “Raindrops.” It reminds me of Daft Punk (always a good thing) but more ADD. Buxton’s voice soars as he repeats, “just like rain drops, you taste so good on my lips.” It’s pure pop.
“Saga (feat. Santigold)” and “Twerk (feat. Yo Majesty)” are the other two standouts. “Saga” is a mesh of dance hall & ska and incorporates some gritty synthesizers, whereas “Twerk” has snippets of Hindi songs infused with today’s dance music. Santigold’s guest vocals vary emotionally “Saga” and it’s easy to sway and kick back to the song. “ Twerk” on the other hand is like drinking a masala chai tea with vodka in it for kicks: spicy and intoxicating.
After creating Scars, Felix Buxton told Billboard that there will be more of a Pink Floyd influence with ambient tracks taking the form of EPs later on in the band’s career. Hopefully in their next piece they try to keep that distinct Basement Jaxx personality intact.