Review Summary: It's been 5 years since Jamiroquai last put an album out, the 2005’s diverse "Dynamite". Are they still relevant?
The music scene changed much during their long absence and this may cost them a lot. But they have enough skill and diversity for a comeback and making this album a great listen.
The album starts with the title track, “Rock Dust Light Star”, that is somewhat reminiscent to the ”Travelling Without Moving“ era. Overall a nice listen, before moving on the first single and brilliant track White Knuckle Ride, a hi-octane retrospective song on Jay's life(and he's a man who has seen a lot throughout his life: cars, drugs, women, a lot of money, etc). The song has an infectious groove and already has its place up there with Jamiroquai’s dance floor classics like “Cosmic Girl”, “Alright”, “Canned Heat” or “Little L”.
The next song, "Smoke & Mirrors", is another highlight of the album, especially the chorus and the end section where the horns and background singers play along with Jay, who’s singing the song’s key lyric "You want your lover tonight". "All Good In The Hood" and the later "Two Completely Different Things" are nothing new but common Jamiroquai tracks having solid grooves, and it’s the band's experience that makes them sound good and not disposable.
The album's mid-section contains a string of ballad to mid-tempo tracks. "Hurtin’" is a laid back, almost lazy number where Jay's voice gets a bit hoarse and the background gospel-like vocals sound a bit out of place and the whole song builds up slowly, ending like a Sunday preaching with reverend Jay. While the ballad "Blue Skies" isn't the band operating at their peak, "Lifeline" is another great track, beginning with some "King For A Day"-like strings then switching to a lounge sound and to the lovely piano-driven chorus. A definite highlight.
The next couple of songs are more "vintage" Jamiroquai. "She's A Fast Persuader" is more about the instrumental, having a great trumpet solo and a funky bass & percussion breakdown (only with some "Dynamite" style vocoder touches) that harkens back to their first two albums' sound (e.g. Space Cowboy). "Goodbye To My Dancer" is a funkier song (with guitars similar to “Love Foolosophy” only considerably slower) backed up by more prominent bongos rhythms throughout it and “Never Gonna Be Another” is again a slow number, that’s a nice listen, similar to “Everyday” or “Tallulah”.
Album closer "Hey Floyd" is a notable surprise, with a more stripped African influenced drum rhythm & piano in the beginning, before bursting into more common territory on the chorus, then switching to a ska-like hook and back again. Even though it may sound cramped and too much, the track manages to flow smoothly and remain interesting.
Lyrically, throughout the album Jay switches from the typical love themes to the life retrospectives, "White Knuckle Ride" and "Lifeline", but it's the music that guides here really, rather than the words.
Overall, a great comeback album with an interesting diversity that makes you put Good Ol'Jamiroquai back on your playlists.
Highlights – “White Knuckle Ride”, “Lifeline”, “Smoke & Mirrors”, “Hey Floyd”