'90s legends return from the wilderness
During the mid ‘90s, it seemed that Jay Kay and his funk and acid jazz-minded combo could do no wrong. Back then, they had acclaim and commercial success in abundance and were regarded as peers of fellow countrymen Oasis and Blur. However, since the death of the so-called “Cool Britannia” phenomenon, the years haven’t been kind to the large hat lover. In fact “cool” would probably be the last word you’d use to describe Jamiroquai nowadays, as they drift further into Alan Partridge-esque territory.
Eighth album Automaton sees Kay and Co. launch a comeback, but it all feels a little half-cocked. Granted, the 12-track opus is impeccably performed and produced, but the band are (to borrow a phrase from one of their album titles) travelling without moving. The likes of ‘Nights Out In The Jungle’ and ‘Vitamin’ are aimless and every song is a mid-tempo, unremarkable funk jam session. The title-track does save their first album in seven years from being a total disaster. An enjoyable, vocoder-based effort that sounds like a video game soundtrack sprinkled with a little bit of krautrock, it suggests that maybe we shouldn’t count Kay out just yet.
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