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20 Watts Reviews Basement Jaxx’s Scars by JohnCassillo

Basement Jaxx's fully-collaborative fourth album ultimately disappoints

Basement Jaxx's fully-collaborative fourth album ultimately disappoints

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Basement Jaxx’s “Raindrops” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts

When UK eletronic/house sensations Basement Jaxx announced the details of their latest record, Scars, the media replied with cautious optimism. Among those contributing to their first record since 2006 were names such as Santigold, Lightspeed Champion, Sam Sparro and even Yoko Ono. Lead single “Raindrops” furthered the excitement, as a dance-heavy, enthusiastic track, seemingly made for radio success. If the rest of Scars was anything like this song, it was sure to be pop gold.

Except it wasn’t like that. If anything, “Raindrops” will depress the listener after Scars ends. “Raindrops” only presents a glimmer of what is left of the group’s once-fleeting potential. After the song’s emphatic ecstasy, there are but few small victories amongst a collection of songs possibly too ambitious for its own good.

And it all comes down to a lack of execution, and perhaps a lack of foresight as well. Once Basement Jaxx contracted all of these notable artists to appear, it’s as if they had no idea what to do with them. On “Saga,” Santigold sounds like she is simply remixing one of her own tracks. Ono’s “Day of the Sunflowers (March On)” comes off more as an overly-peppy march, than the pleasant call to action it may have been intended as. Even the always-interesting Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion enters a dud, with the awkward, anti-pop “My Turn.”

There are still some bright spots however, albeit very slight. Among them, the title track and intro, “Scars,” paints itself as a grandiose R&B and pop hybrid, with an almost-suffocating amount of energy. “A Possibility,” the album’s least pop-oriented number, mixes doo-wop and a flurry of electronic noise into an intriguing, yet unorthodox love ballad.

When fans wait three years for an album, they usually expect a lot from an artist. Be it artistic growth, or a newfound experimental streak, something must be new, engaging or different in order to hold their attention. Unfortunately, Basement Jaxx miss the mark. They confused cunning with collaboration, and the results (mostly) ebbed between average and mediocre.

— John Cassillo

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1 Comment

[…] UK-based house duo Basement Jaxx have released a music video for the title track of their fifth studio based album, Scars. Stereogum gives us a look at the video, which is directed by Dutch digital animator and artist Jan van Nuenen. The video thrives off of the effect-laden vocals supplied by Kelis, Meika, and Chipmunk, and features a rather threatening plant that grows and develops as the song progresses. Trust me, you’ll never look at a rosebush the same way again. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Basement Jaxx's Scars] […]

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