Returning after a five year hiatus – even with seven successful albums behind you – is a daunting prospect for most but, if Junto is anything to go by, Basement Jaxx aren’t bothered. It’s evident pretty early on that the veterans are not out to break any moulds or to fit in with the current electro crop either. They’re here to do what Basement Jaxx do best – make people get up and dance.
From opener ‘Power to the People’ on, Junto is all about positivity and uplifting the listeners. Filled with steel tropical drums and background chanting, the song goes round and round over the five minute mark which, by the time you get off, leaves you feeling a little dizzy and nauseous. ‘Unicorn’ offers some light relief, but there is more sugary sweet dance in new single ‘Never Say Never’, attempting to mix ballad vocals with hyper beats. ‘We Are Not Alone’ and ‘What’s The News’ blend in together in one wishy washy, forgettable mess and both feel completely unnecessary. ‘Summer Dem’ is an irritant with bizarre Scottish vocals and an ’80s feel and it’s easy to imagine a kitsch ‘Oh My Gosh’ style video to accompany it.
‘Buffalo’ is the duo’s dubstep test and acts as an interlude, but proves to be one of the strongest tracks – if only for the fact that it ends where the other songs begin to become overbearing. The second half fizzles rather than pops with Basment Jaxx more keen to show there diverse sound rather than create anything worthwhile. ‘Love Is At Your Side’ is a disappointing closer, sounding far to generic and lo – fi for a band that have brought us a succession of dancefloor classics.
Junto reads like a greatest hits album without any great hits. A band who are clearly delighted to be back making music, in the excitement they’ve ended up producing an album of predominately filler with songs that are too long and repetitive. With no stand out, generation defining tracks, this unfortunately just doesn’t cut it.