For me, Basement Jaxx are a little like the deep fried Mars bar. Most of the time, there are very few things I wouldn’t prefer to do than consume it. Then, just occasionally, usually after about fifteen pints, a game of rugby or a night out during which the DJ thought it was a good idea to play a lot of Cascada (let’s face it, quality’s all relative), it becomes the most desirable thing in the world.
Scars, though, is not your typical Basement Jaxx album. Yes, they’re still a lively, vaguely electro and house-influenced pairing, and they’d still kick off plenty of parties, but there’s something a good deal more mature about the way Scars has turned out. At times, the new album could almost be Little Boots trying to imitate Massive Attack. Not, actually, such a bad thing. The theme of the album appears to be rain (which slips in to several tracks both rhythmically and lyrically), and in -Raindrops’ that theme has an impressive, infectious, tastefully toned down lead off.
-Feelings Gone’ is another highlight, a downbeat piece of Europop-influenced, end-of-the-night dance floor filler with a tuneful Sam Sparro on vocals. -Distractionz’ (yes, they do still insist on the -cool’ spellings) is driven by a contagious, off-the wall-beat blended with distorted, haunting vocals and the occasional electro twizzle, while -What’s A Girl To Do’ is more typical Basement Jaxx, drawing in attitude-filled vocals and trumpets. There are a host of collaborations to add variety, including Yoko Ono (she gets around these days, doesn’t she), Santigold and Kelis amongst a dozen or so others.
The impressive new front is occasionally broken, though, like at the start of the title track, when a gurgled, gritty, extended call of -Basement Jaxx’ is thrown in, or between two of the later tracks, when the unsubtle and – call me a prude if you will – entirely unnecessarily sound of one of the duo’s (quite impressive sounding) orgasm is tossed into the mix. Yes, at times, Jaxx might still be the musical equivalent of licking your finger and sticking it in your friend’s ear, but this is some serious progress. And – may God save my musical soul – are occasionally quite phenomenally good.