Basement Jaxx Rooty
Statements of intent don't come much bolder and brighter than Basement Jaxx's Romeo. The first single from their second album, and the opening track, is camp Europop trash of the highest order, a joyously absurd kaleidoscope of kitsch xylophone plinks, rocketing swirls, thrusting rhythms and a "Woah-oh-eh-oh" backing vocal to make Go West-era Pet Shop Boys proud. It's gaudy and carnivalesque and just exhilarating to listen to Ü splitting up with a boyfriend never sounded such fun.
The one thing Romeo isn't is cool. It's the kind of song you can imagine being a huge hit at teenage discos, holiday camps, all the places real clubbers wouldnÍt be seen dead. At this time of year, the dance world's attention is almost entirely focused on Ibiza and its summer anthems; Rooty has its heart in the Balearics too, but not always on the island you'd expect. There are songs here that could just as happily be blared from hotels in Majorca, while families do the conga round the swimming pool and Club 18-30 types get sozzled on pina coladas decorated with sparklers before snogging four people in an hour.
It's there in the froth of daftness that is I Want You: the beat and juddering keyboards may be ferocious, but bouncing against them are sparkly cockney vocals from a singer simply identified as Mandy, a bonkers "down di di di di down" chorus, and melodies that fizz like ice cream dropped into lemonade. Jus 1 Kiss is intoxicating in its hands-in-the-air simplicity; it even hits the steel-drum sound-effect button for added sunshine. For nights in hotel rooms with strangers you get SFM, a sultry gloop of sauciness that sounds like a Prince who has discovered a youth elixir. And for that horrible morning-after-the-pina-coladas feeling there's Broken Dreams, a Latin adventure of brass, bubbles and swoony vocals that could be sung by a mermaid.
The mood Rooty projects is one of carefree abandon: this is music with a boisterous sense of fun and a blissful disregard for the dictates of fashion. The irony is that Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton themselves couldn't be considered more cool if they walked about cased in ice. Their small monthly parties in dingy pubs in Brixton Ü most recently Rooty, where this album took shape - start out as secrets but end up as magnets for London clubland's trendies (that's the point when the duo shut the night down and lay low until they can start anew). The pairÍs attraction lies at least partly in the fact that, as DJs, they have no rules. TheyÍll play Hall and Oates to a crowd of discombobulated New Yorkers and unashamedly build tracks around songs by Earth, Wind and Fire (Breakaway) and Gary Numan (Where's Your Head At). Felix even does some high-pitched singing, and doctors his voice with a vocoder so that he sounds like a girl.
The duo's desire to evade all prescriptive forces becomes the defining feature of Rooty. Track after track features lyrics about escape, search, being true to oneself Ü most obviously Breakaway and Do Your Thing ("I don't give a damn what the people say, I'm gonna do it, gonna do it my way"), but also the more turbulent Where's Your Head At. The latter is the album's most in-yer-face track, a frenzy of garage beats and shouty vocals that advise "Don't let the walls cave in on you". But its fury is somewhat undermined by noises that sound like those animal toys that bleat when turned upside down, and a percussion line that is possibly being bashed out on a cowbell. If the words hadn't already been appropriated, youÍd call it daft punk. Do Your Thing is driven by a jaunty, finger-clicking jazz piano, while Breakaway is punctuated by a scallywag in the background - possibly Felix himself Ü singing "ner ner ner ner" like a naughty child. These aren't people who take themselves too seriously.
It's this air of lighthearted silliness that makes Rooty so enjoyable to listen to, and that captures again Basement Jaxx's great talent - an ability to create club tracks that have both underground integrity and commercial nous. That knack made their debut album, Remedy, sound like a breath of fresh air on its release two years ago, but it sounds positively flat and restrained compared with this riot of colour and amusement. And, at the risk of sounding corny, Rooty is what Remedy only seemed to be: a successful attack on divisions in music. Barriers between pop and dance, between the different genres of club music, between the superstar DJs who earn hundreds of thousands jetting to swish parties across the globe and the little guy who earns a fraction of that travelling to wedding parties in Essex in a battered Morris Minor, between those who opt for the clubs of Ibiza and those who plump for the nitespots of Majorca Ü all those barriers come crashing down in this dizzy, delicious album.