Basement Jaxx
Scars


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
September 24th, 2009 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you've been dying to hear what an orgasming Yoko Ono might sound like, your chance has finally arrived!

Their scene might be dead, but U.K. progressive house duo Basement Jaxx (Felix Burton and Simon Ratcliffe) show they can hang with the new kids on their fifth album, the party-all-the-time Scars. While Ratcliffe and Burton were going all conceptual on their last effort, 2006’s Crazy Itch Radio, up-and-coming dance groups like Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, and even a rejuvenated Daft Punk were bringing dance/electronica to a whole new indie audience. In the process, Jaxx’s influence on the current scene was a bit forgotten, the brilliance of their masterpiece Kish Kash overshadowed by a wave of hip DJ troupes and a perception of the duo as, well, a bit old. By the time the title track kicks things off with Kelis, Meleka, and Chipmunk, however, it’s clear that, no matter how long the Jaxx have been around, they still know how to throw down a freaky groove.

From the former Mrs. Nas to the former Mrs. Lennon, Basement Jaxx call in a number of favors and produce what could easily be termed their comeback album, a record that kick starts the party to 11 and never dials it back. The beats here are some of the sharpest and dirtiest of their career; from when the bass drops out and then slams back in as Burton croons along on “Raindrops” to when what sounds like a hyperactive New Orleans brass section sends the sassy, jazzy “She’s No Good” into the club stratosphere, Burton and Ratcliffe continually prove again and again why they remain two of the top DJs in the business. Their version of dance never tries to exclude, relying on the intelligent pop foundation that the two base every song on and drawing from a palette of vibrant, colorful styles and genres. With the Jaxx you will never hear the same repetitive drum ‘n bass or surging, back-and-forth synth roar, but don’t discount the random samba beat or occasional shoegaze guitar riff.

The funky hip-hop pastiche “Twerk,” which features a tasty sample of ‘80s classic “Maniac,” would appeal to any casual Top 40 fan, while songs like the bouncy, Mark Ronson-esque “What’s A Girl Gotta Do” and the blue-eyed techno-soul that Sam Sparro brings to “Feelings Gone” are sure to please everyone from club goers to tight-jeaned indie kids, respectively. The production remains uniformly top-notch, allowing even fairly lackluster guest spots, like Santigold’s on “Saga” or Amp Fiddler on the dreamy, guitar-driven slow jam “A Possibility,” to shine regardless. Indeed, the pace is so breakneck and the beats so relentlessly tasty that it sometimes becomes almost too much. Whereas Kish Kash had a series of perfectly-placed interludes to allow for some necessary breathing room, this nonstop romp sometimes causes songs to bleed together, leading tunes like “My Turn” to be overshadowed by their predecessor or one to lose track of exactly which song one is listening to.

And then there’s the incredibly frustrating centerpiece of the album sung by the infamous Yoko Ono. “Day of the Sunflowers – We March On” features easily one of the sexiest beats on the record, an everywhere-at-once stew of trip-hop and elastic dance held together by a fantastic drum part. But then Ono’s vocals, which are certainly odd but not unpleasant, turn a screeching 180-degrees about midway through. Suddenly she’s mumbling something about fish tickling her skin and cows that look like ducks as she ululates randomly before making what sounds like an uncomfortably realistic fake orgasm. Clearly she hasn’t lost it (whatever it is, of course; I’m sure John could’ve told us), even at age 76.

Besides making the odd choice to close with “Gimme Somethin’ True,” which makes a lot more sense in the middle of the record than as a rather abrupt conclusion, Scars finishes up as a great success. Burton and Ratcliffe have again created a dance record that is innovative and obscenely catchy in an era when much of the genre is content to practice a mere retreading of what others are doing better. Now if they could only bring back some of the moderation and sequencing they mastered on Kish Kash, they’d likely have yet another classic record on their hands.



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user ratings (46)
Chart.
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


12037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

1 of four reviews written for CDs released the 22nd. what a glorious day

Digging: Default Genders - main pop girl 2019

Niceinvader
September 24th 2009


773 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glad someone reviewed this.



Raindrops is an amazing song for some odd reason. What's a girl gotta do? not so much.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


12037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the chick on what's a girl gotta do reminds me of amy winehouse every time

AtavanHalen
September 24th 2009


17920 Comments


New Basement! Fuuuuuuuuuuck yes.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


22485 Comments


So I was reading a local review of this the other day & this is how my thought process went:

- Should I review it?
- I don't want to get pigeon-holed doing dance music reviews after my David Guetta review
- But no-one else on Sputnik will go anywhere near it.
- Hang on a tick; Rudy!
- I'll pass.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


12037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'll take that as a compliment davis. you know me too well

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


22485 Comments


I don't think it was meant as a compliment or a put-down. It was just a 20 second thought process of mine.

Anyway, good review here Rudy. I was actually reading about how the album came to life. Apparently, at the beginning, the songs were much darker. The record label was really worried after initial listens. So some of the more party-starting sounds that you write about came a lot later in the process.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2009


12037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haha i know davis it's not your fault your brain subconsciously ends up complimenting me :0



very interesting, i actually would've been interested to hear how that came out although Crazy Itch Radio wasn't anything special. kish kash is actually fairly dark so it can work together

Waior
September 25th 2009


11627 Comments


I have never, ever wondered what an orgasming Yoko Ono would sound like.

Nor do I want to, at that.

Skyler
September 25th 2009


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love Basement Jaxx. Will probably check this out.

kojpl
September 29th 2009


11 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

EHH!! Basment Jaxx!! I really like their song Scars

Arucard
October 2nd 2009


581 Comments


feelings gone is amazing, the rusko remix is BIG

but they aren't progressive house mate, never have been

sorry to be a genre nazi.

Skyler
October 5th 2009


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Couple good tracks here. The rest I could do without.



I don't think they'll ever be able to top Rooty, or even Remedy for that matter.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2009


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fairly meh album tbh

Review's gold

Enotron
November 3rd 2009


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

record is balls.

Douglas
November 3rd 2009


9283 Comments


If you've been dying to hear what an orgasming Yoko Ono might sound like, your chance has finally arrived!

Must be a common thought, because I think I heard some say something like that on triple J hahaha

Niceinvader
November 4th 2009


773 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ arucard, man i can't believe people still like rusko.



Imo his music has gotten progressively more boring and sameish, it doesn't sound like he tries on anything anymore.But that's just me.

Niceinvader
November 4th 2009


773 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Scars is the best song on here by the way

brutebeard
June 21st 2011


1655 Comments


Rain Drops brings back good memories

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2011


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll always have a soft spot for Jaxx simply because Remedy was one of the first electronic albums I ever checked out, but this is rather average



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