Listeners embark on a journey into the future of sound, with Jamiroquai at the helm. With its release of Automaton, Jamiroquai proves it is still whole-heartedly crafting its brand of acid jazz-funk fusion. The album brims with memorable moments and must-listen tracks that are sure to fill up the dance floor and tickle the fancies of more timid listeners lining the walls.
As if straight out of a moment of Tron, the album’s title track represents a crazy slew of synth and distortions. The heavy use of synth, keyboard, and vocal distortions make this one of Automaton’s most busy and full songs. Though there is much going on in this song with regard to instrumental content, Jay Kay’s voice is always clear even when distorted. This song represents a full-on technical display of Jamiroquai’s abilities and song craftsmen.
The single “Cloud 9” is super dance friendly and one of the most entrancing track on the album. It is fantastic, funky, and big. Every inch of this song oozes a certain dance-floor grooviness. The sharp baseline cuts into the song powerfully and ramps up to its catchy chorus. Some of the most memorable moments come during the transition from the bridge to chorus. The first beckons an ethereal transition into chorus that feels like one is entering a trance. Coupled with the lyrics, “Only a fool could walk away from me this time,” listeners arrive on the titular “Cloud Nine.” This song is like a perfectly crafted cake. It contains enough frosting in every bite without overshadowing the elegance of the cake itself.
One of the most fun songs of the album, “Summer Girl,” feels like a funky stroll down the boardwalk, complete with dreamy thoughts of the sun shining in one’s eyes. The simple track documents the brief love of a passing girl in a passing season. The sharp gyrating baseline rests in the forefront of the song, giving it direction. The warm, waning violins make the images of the summer girl come to life. The song is made all the more ornate with embellishments by trumps and synth, which fill the images of a balmy beach day to a tee.
Changing directions a bit, “Dr. Buzz” embraces soothing quality. The loose and wispy lyrics help hone the guitar usurpations as it jumps in and brings gravity to the lyrics. The guitar truly conveys ideas of lost disorientation. In a beautiful, saucy falsetto, singer Jay Kay implores Dr. Buzz to aid him in his internal and external fears with lines like: “Caught up in catastrophe / Tell me why it hurts so much.” Embellished by fresh keyboard and sax licks, “Dr. Buzz” feels like tackling the streets with a fresh pair of kicks.
Like a walk through a foggy street-corner, “We Can Do It” changes the style again opting for a mysterious, seductive tone. As Jay Kay delivers the lyrics in a ‘Da-da da-da’ style the titular lines “We-can do-it” becomes all the more enticing and staccato. As the guitar kicks in amid later chorus lines, the sense of mystery is brought to a head.
“Vitamin” is invigorated by a hastened beat that allows the song to go is multiple directions. Its funky use of keyboard and synth creates the allure in the most audible way that Jamiroquai has been ushering in throughout the album. Lyrically, the song is poetic and as quick as its baseline. As if pushing lost thoughts aside, in one of its most impressive lines, Jay Kay rattles off the line: “I’ve got telepathic, insomatic views of you that I’ve been keeping.”
Jamiroquai is a true pioneer in all of its dealings as it pushes the boundaries in the growing eclectic music market. It is consistent in creating new kinds of sounds and putting out albums that are distinct from its previous catalogues, but also interiorly within an album. There is a sound, a moment, or a line in this album for everyone. As in “Cloud 9,” only a fool could walk away from this album.
Featured Image By Virgin EMI