Anyone who’s seen the funky dancing scene in Napoleon Dynamite has already heard Jamiroquai when Napoleon danced to their song, “Canned Heat.”
Jamiroquai’s sound is trance, jazz, and funk all in one package. Their music style has also been referred to as “acid jazz”, a genre combining elements of jazz, funk, soul, and disco. Regardless of the genre, the band’s formula seems to be working.
The British dance-funk group formed in 1992, fronted by Jay Kay, and released their debut album Emergency on Planet Earth in 1993. Their newest album, Automaton, is Jamiroquai’s eighth studio album, and their first album in seven years.
One might wonder where a name like Jamiroquai would originate. The band says that the name is a mix of “jam” and “iroquai”, based on the Native American tribe, Iroquois.
Automaton, released on March 31, is an ode to Jamiroquai’s roots, and is filled with fun rhythms, funky beats, and music that just makes you want to dance. Singing about disappointments with technology, instability of our world, and the happiness of life, Jamiroquai shows in Automaton that they remain a force to be reckoned with in the world of funk.
Opening the album with “Shake it On,” Jamiroquai establishes the sound they’ve always been known for, with hints of robotic sounds, reminiscent of Daft Punk. The result is a feel-good, funky song with lyrics like, “It’s a solid state affair / I can feel it everywhere / Music still infecting me / Music still protecting me, yeah.”
In “Superfresh,” the band gets nostalgic to some disco beats and the lively sound is infectious. Vocalist Kay repeats, “I want you to rock with me, baby, rock me baby all night long,” and the song has all the classic elements of a great disco song, but with the modern twist of some added techno.
One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Summer Girl,” captures all the soulful elements of funk, and makes me feel like I’m on a vacation. The song has a great flow to it, with lyrics like “Summer girl / Feels like I’m in love again / Oh that summer girl.”
“Vitamin” is another great song in Automaton, and keeps the funky vibes going strong. Kay sings, “Girl you know I wanna get it through / Gonna keep the flow / I don’t need no vitamin / Get some funky love in your life.”
As a whole, Automaton is a fun and refreshing album that does not disappoint. After their highly-anticipated comeback, Jamiroquai shows that they can still keep the funk alive.