Jamiroquai, the name should automatically ring a bell for any dedicated fan of electronic music.
Lead singer Jay Kay is the culprit behind the tall hat trend that has infamously been carried out by Grammy winning producer & artist Pharrell, so ya, it’s safe to say that Jay and his crew have most definitely left a decent sized footprint industry. It has been seven years since the release of Jamiroquai’s last album Rock Dust Light Star and since then, we’ve seen the electronic music scene change more than anyone could’ve ever imagined. The signature acid funk sound that was used so often by artists in the 90s and early 2000s has suddenly vanished and in came the modern era overproduced future bass and big room house that fills venues and festival stages across the states. In Automaton, I finally heard something different from 90% of the tracks being released on Soundcloud these days which was quite refreshing.
We live in a generation where everyone wants to be the next Skrillex, Jauz, Flume etc. without realizing that there is so much more to electronic music than just crazy sound design skills and a drop. Everyone is so caught up in recreating an established sound that one's own creativity is stunted and crushed, we just have thousands of soul-less robot sound-design copycats filling the charts these days but with Automaton, Jamiroquai has restored my faith in the industry.
This is something that I will say time and time again but, character and great storytelling in music stems off of the songs simplicity and creativity. Each song should be a journey, not every track needs a climactic build to counter its highly anticipated “drop”. Jamiroquai brings back the soul that myself and millions of others around the world have been longing for over the past few years.
The combination Jay Kay’s voice, the smooth recurring bass-line and funk chords on a retro style analog synth gives the whole album such a nice flavor. What is most respectable of the group is that despite the fact that it has been twenty years since the release of their first debut album, I could pick and choose songs at random from the various albums they’ve released and the collection of those tunes wouldn’t sound all that different from each other. Kay and his colleagues have stayed true to their roots, something that is highly respectable in the music world where we constantly see our idols become “sellouts” as they begin their rise to fame.
Although lead singles "Automaton" and "Cloud 9" are certain to be crowd pleasers, my favorite songs currently from Automaton so far have to be “Hot Property,” “Summer Girl,” and “We Can Do It.” Each of these songs are playful in their own essence, drawing out a bit of nostalgia as all good dance music should and most importantly, instantly causing you to bump your head and feet along to the groove. What stood out to me the most in Automaton is that Jay Kay and the rest of Jamiroquai have successfully combined acid-jazz, funk, disco, and house elements together to create their own unique sub-genre that just fits together really nicely. Jamiroquai's sound can’t really be described as a single genre but I will say that whatever they are doing works really really well, simple as that.
There is a song in this album for everyone and I’m sure that in the next few months various tunes I overlooked will begin to grow on me. Some critics have explained how the whole album sounds “dated” but I say that they are a part of this growing issue with today's music. Everyone is pushing for more and more in electronic music to the point where it isn’t even enjoyable. Maybe it’s just the effect and downside of American commercialization of electronic music where more=better but I think in time we will see everything go back to its roots. I’m hoping for this album to top the charts in the next few weeks and am excited to hear what's to come in Jamiroquai's future. In terms of my overall rating of the album, I’d give it a solid and well earned 9/10.
Jamiroquai will begin their Automaton tour in late May starting off in Asia and continuing their venture into Europe until late November. Unfortunately, there are no set dates for stops in North America but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hope for a tour to be announced in the coming months.