It has been seven long years since the pretty mediocre ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ was showcased by London based Jamiroquai but 31st March 2017 sees Jay Kay and his band of Acid Jazz Funksters return to proper form by way of their eighth studio album ‘Automaton’. Buoyed by the record quick sell out of tickets for Friday nights London Roundhouse show and the adoration for the title track that was presented to the world in late January their explosion back onto the music scene has came at what appears to be just the right time.
Automaton emerges with the electro disco grooved Shake it on, an infectious track that combines a pulsing bass, analogue sounds and disco strings. The next two tracks Automaton and Cloud 9 have been doing the rounds for the last few weeks, the former self titled illustrating a new overtly electronic Jamiroquai with its polished spaceage synthetics and vocoded voices which touch on sheer brilliance. Superfresh is another energised disco funk number with throwbacks to Cosmic Girl, entwining guitar and Synth perfectly over a driving bass line.
Following on from this, Hot Property stomps along with Jay Kay singing about “My Baby’s Hot, Hot, Hot Property”. Something About You is instantly recognisable Jamiroquai and another very solid track if not a bit Jay Kay by numbers. Summer Girl enters the fray with a dreamy soundscape that evokes thoughts of chilling by a pool in an exotic paradise sipping cocktails. The upbeat mood is continued with the chunky bass guitar line and animal effects through Nights Out In The Jungle, albeit quite a minimal sounding track from what has previously been portrayed on Automaton and one of the weaker tracks on the album although not bad by any stretch.
Dr Buzz is next up with a sinister bassy sawtooth start which quickly normalises into another familiar styled track but underneath features some atmospheric effects that lift it above album filler. Three tracks remain, the first of these We Can Do It starts with a metronome and some out of tune sounding keys before ticking over in a Ska groove that would have suited the Specials. Vitamin steps up the pace again but keeps a mellow feel to it, although it all harks back to a bit of Starsky and Hutch in sound. Finally Carla sees Automaton out with a contagious electric groove that works its way into your head and dictates the track but doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the album closer.
Automaton was a long time coming but the strength that this long lay off has had is evident in the quality of the production. From Emergency on Planet Earth back in 1993 the Jamiroquai sound has evolved with each album while always maintaining their funk roots and Automaton is no different but what has changed is the shift to prominent electronics and synthetic soundscape through this collection. Automaton is a welcome return to form for the guys and will satisfy not only the fan base but the music community in general.