Jamiroquai: Automaton

Score: 7/10 – Funk Soul Brother.
As someone who remembers first hand the positive impact Jamiroquai had on 90’s music with their first two albums, it has been an ongoing source of disappointment to watch Jay Kay & co slowly but surely slide into middle-of-the-road tedium. What started out as a noble exercise in fusing contemporary acid jazz with eco-sensibilities on 1993’s Emergency on Planet Earth, eventually became a Ferrari-driving, paparazzi thumping bore-fest.
That’s why the Ealing ensemble’s eighth LP, Automaton is such a pleasant surprise. Not only is it good, it confidently straddles the old and new sound of Jamiroquai, fusing it together for an album that leaves the last couple of lackluster efforts (Rock Dust Light Star, Dynamite) in its future disco dust.
Although Jamiroquai have been around for much longer than fellow mad headgear wearing contemporaries Daft Punk, Automaton aligns closely (some may complain too closely) with the airy disco funk of the French DJ duo – all breathless basslines, polished hooks and plenty of kitschy retro futurism to help it all along. Kay himself sounds as fresh as ever, his buttery voice holding up nicely amongst the laserbeam synths and sampled strings.
Conspicuous by its absence is the existence of a bonafide single. Jamiroquai have always been a ‘singles’ band  – with hits like “Virtual Insanity”, “Cosmic Girl” and “Space Cowboy” providing solid backbones to rest the other material on. Here, while the songs are for the most part foot-tapping, shoulder-jiggling disco nuggets (“Shake On”, “Summer Girl” and the title track particularly), nothing really stands out in the same way as their best-known cuts. That said, Automaton remains a slick updating of the classic Jamiroquai sound, and for that it’s absolutely worth taking for a spin on the dance floor.
Dan Ashcroft
Like this? Try these:

Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love
Melbourne bedroom DJ Dan Whitford invites his mates over for a house party.

Prince – 1999
Funky dance goodness from before the icon became just an icon.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Polished robo-funk from French disco duo.

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