The cat in the never more outlandish hat is back. Jay Kay, he of the lavish cars and the speeding fines, has been called unkinder names than cat of course. But whatever critics say, Jamiroquai sell and people dance.
Dynamite is the band’s first album since 2001 and is a welcome return of Jamiroquai’s trademark blend of ’80s funk and pop sensibilities – familiar, yet refreshingly different to so much of their current competition.
Lead single Feels Just Like It Should does exactly what it says on the tin – it feels and moves like a classic Jamiroquai track, calling to mind Deeper Underground but offering memorable hooks too.
The title track is a misnomer – weighing in at five minutes, much of that time is taken up by countless repetitions of the title. Indulgence perhaps, tedious arguably, but explosive it assuredly isn’t.
The rest of the record splits between mid-tempo funkadelic toe-tappers in the vein of Starchild and acid jazz throwbacks like Talulah (dedicated to Miss Bankhead? Surely not…). The latter is as close as we get to a torch song from Jamiroquai and, with its flutes and languid tempo, acts as a punctuation mark in the middle of the album, with only World That He Wants slowing things down further.
The tempo is ramped up again for Give Hate A Chance, which features the kind of bubblegum noises last aired by Scissor Sisters, but of course Jay Kay’s gang patented them long ago. The lyrics are largely superfluous, and attention tends to divert to the fast-paced bass notes instead of listening to what Hatboy is emoting about.
Further on, Black Devil Car plays like a parody of Jay Kay’s petrolhead tendencies and suggests there’s a humour somewhere under that headgear. It’s an obvious follow-up single, but so slick it could’ve been polished.
An attempt at pushing envelopes, at least vocally, might suggest that Jamiroquai have surprises left in them yet. But Dynamite is ultimately the tried-and-tested Jamiroquai mix of techno sounds and fretless bass and funky guitar perfected some time ago.
What it is not is inventive. Like that other oft-derided pop stalwart Simply Red‘s last album, there’s no suggestion that anything new is being tried, boundaries pushed, interesting avenues pursued. Jay Kay, like Mick Hucknall, is a man who knows what his public like and, on the evidence of Dynamite, he’s only too happy to continue supplying it.
Dynamite is a slickly produced return from Hatboy, and feels… just like it should, really, without inspiring love or hate. Bubbly, weightless pop from a band showing no signs of winding their dance moves down.