Anybody out there used to rock out in their childhood and look forward to the MTV Music Awards every year? You better believe I was the same way, and as an 80’s baby you already know I was turned up when Jamiroquai (at the time I didn’t know if that was the name of the band or the singer) was moonwalking over those invisible electric walkways that I suppose is the same technology that you now see at all the major airports (for that matter I’ve been Jamiroquai’n at Newark International my whole life), yet when that Virtual Insanity came on back in the day… Game Over… that was the indisputable Pop/Rock song of 96 without question, and honestly they’re remembered for that legendary moment to this day.
Now were they a one hit wonder? Not at all it’s just that in the states we were asleep to the British Funk & Jazz band until their third album, and in Europe they had already become household names for their debut and sophomore albums titled Emergency on Planet Earth and The Return of the Space Cowboy. From there they crossed over into international success with the 10x Platinum Traveling Without Moving, followed by subsequent titles Synchronized, A Funk Odyssey, Dynamite, and Rock Dust Light Star, all of which performed well on their charts in spite of mixed reviews.
Now after 7 years since their prior release, Jay Kay and the band are back with their seventh studio album Automaton, and believe me when I say I now want to go back through their whole catalogue. Automation is critiqued track by track below.
Shake It On
“I don't have a love affair, on all these lonely flights, promises of liquid gold, mend my heart but not my soul” The opening track is definitely a ride, and it’s one that definitely sets the tone for 12 records of pure euphoria.
“All this love I felt for you, has gone away to another place (It's a digital life), I put my faith in a digital world, where they've given me eyes without a face, I stare at the moon on silver nights, remind myself I am someone, my soul is null and void tonight, I'm automaton” The title track off Jamiroquai’s new album is similar to their breakout hit from the 90’s in concept as well as delivery, as lead singer Jay Kay sings about the ills of living in a futuristic society - one in which he’s said in interviews is likely only few years away from human cloning - a sentiment that’s not even far fetched in a Virtual Insanity.
“Only a fool could walk away from me this time, I look up to heaven, every star I see is mine, only a fool could walk away from me this time, I'm walking on air, and every cloud is cloud 9” Produced by Matthew Johnson & Jay Kay this is definitely one of the standout records on Automaton, and deservedly so this one got the video treatment as well - add this to all feel good playlists immediately.
“Is there nothing I can do, to get another dance with you? Can I take you to another block? (Superfresh, baby), where the music never seems to stop (Superfresh lady), I'd do anything it's true (Superfresh), to get another dance with you (Superfresh, maybe)” Yet another uptempo dance record produced in house by Matthew Johnson and Jay Kay, and sure enough here’s another one to keep the party rockin thru the night (I can only imagine the salacious drugs that could be used in recreation with this song, or in fact with any other song on the album, and in another life I can only wish to indulge).
“You know that she’s hot property, that girl is hot hot hot hot property…” Once again produced by Matthew Johnson & Jay Kay (who together or separately produced the entire album), the instrumental is both incredible and futuristic yet the melody sounds like something we’ve heard too many times before. Not a skip but it’s debatable filler (although that bridge spoken in Russian dialect is a nice touch)
Something About You
“Something, baby, about you, that I can't let go of sins tonight, something, baby, about you, that was feeling right, right all night…” Produced once more by Matthew Johnson and vocalist Jay Kay, this one like so many others on the album is actually reminiscent of the recently fallen yet forever iconic Prince - which without a doubt is the best compliment one could give to Jamiroquai - and even with all nostalgia and hyperbole aside - this new original music is definitely deserving of similar acclaim.
“And she don’t care for money, cause she got all she needs, got legs like liquid honey, eyes the colour of the sea” This one paints a vivid picture of that sweet seductress in the summertime that can turn your life upside down in a single moment… I fux with this one heavy especially that instrumental in the bridge 🔥🔥🔥
Nights Out In The Jungle
“Rich kids in their supercars, plastic gangsters, washed up movie stars, it’s all up-town chic and down-town fear, eyeline smeared with someone tears, angels in their stripper wear, baby, I’m so wasted, I don’t care” “Super rich kids with nothing but fake friends” Easy to hear what this one’s all about, and although it’s not infectious like the other records on the tape, I’d still argue that due to it’s content it still serves as a decent album cut.
“Ooh, I can't take it Dr. Buzz, the street, it's got a hold on me, tell me why it hurts so much” I imagine Dr. Buzz symbolizes that fix we all need to get away sometimes, as Jay Kay throughout the album sees the world as a decrepit place torn down by selfishness, shallowness, and greed, and truth be told I see the same thing. Meanwhile that Jazz in the outro is fire along with the final words of “hands up, don’t shoot,” Jay Kay is a real one.
We Can Do It
“Ain’t no problem, that we can’t solve, ain't no worries, we won’t resolve, we can do it, we can do it baby…” Debatable filler and not a standout but it still compliments the overall vibe so I’m not mad at this...
“Never get the chance to dip so far inside your mind, but I know you’ll believe me, I never get the chance to do the things I really like, instead you always tease me” See above; exact same sentiments apply
“I feel the rhythm of your precious little heart, makes up for when I’ve had mine pulled apart, now I’ve tried to give you a much better startIn this life” The outro on the album sounds like it’s dedicated to a supposed child in Jay Kay’s life, perhaps fictional or inspired by real life, or some have speculated that it may be an ode to Jay Kay’s love for automobiles, which due to his expansive collection in some ways makes sense. Overall this one’s a decent cut that’s not a standout but good enough to close out the album.
Overall this album’s way better than I imagined before I pressed play, and Jamiroquai as a band is much more talented and accomplished than they’re given credit for. Every album they’ve ever put out has at least gone Gold or Platinum in some part of the world, and their style of music and performance is 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 much more fire than the American audience is truly aware of. Even their name by itself is interesting, put together as a blend of Jam and the Iroquoi Native American tribe, where it’s only right to give a special shoutout to the Buffalo Man, the logo which has symbolized the band since the very beginning.