tremble clef

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Basement Jaxx, "Take Me Back To Your House" (2006)

The new Basement Jaxx album, Crazy Itch Radio, is pretty much what you'd expect. The structure, for example, hews to their formula: the album is frontloaded with the immediate songs (the first three proper tracks can easily be the singles); there are interludes (which develop the conceit that we are listening to a radio station, as the album title already foretells); the slow or mid-tempo jams are stuffed into the latter half of the album, broken up only by one hopping track ("Everybody"); it ends with the obligatory over-long track (although in this case, said number is actually "long" because it includes a hidden track).

The potential singles also continue to demonstrate the camp sense of humor typical of the Jaxx. Typical to me, at least: while many people have recognized the humor in many of Felix and Simon's songs, probably not many would call it camp. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would, in the sense that these songs usually mask their sincere emotion by immediately commenting on, or mocking it. The lead single "Hush Boy," for instance, is a giddy delight -- I've always preferred the Jaxx in their slinky "Jus 1 Kiss" or "Oh My Gosh" manifestation more than their frat boy jump-n-shout mode -- but never more so when the male backing vocalist screams in a funny drunken voice, "IF YOU WANT ME FOR YOUR GIRLFRIEND!!!" And on "Take Me Back To Your House," the narrator is almost plaintive about wanting to be taken home, but before the emotions get too naked, the track bursts into a glorious chorus, with people screaming in the back, and then a cartoonish voice going, "NO NO NO NO!!!" In my book that's camp, and these tracks are great additions to the Jaxx canon, which is just waiting to be mined by an enterprising drag queen.

If it sounds like I'm calling Crazy Itch Radio predictable, I...well, I am, but the predictable touches (1) don't detract from what is a ridiculously enjoyable album, and (2) are sandwiched around lots of less expected ones. On "Take Me Back To Your House," it's the banjo, which inflects the Jaxx flamenco-house sound and mutates it into a kind of country stomper. On "Hey You," the other insta-hit, it's not just the vocals provided by Robyn and a children's choir, but the way the jittery backing track both builds on, but departs slightly from the samba rhythms previously favored by the band. Meanwhile, "On The Train" sounds like a big band jazz number updated for today.

But it's all about "Take Me Back To Your House" today, when I'm not, that is, walking around randomly shrieking at passers-by, "IF YOU WANT ME FOR YOUR GIRLFRIEND!!!" (Sorry, no mp3, since I see that a couple of sites that had put up tracks have presumably been asked to take them down. I ain't poking nuttin'.)


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