Sophomore album blues from a pair of producers who just want to party all night and make a few tracks during the day? Not a chance. Two years of globetrotting as house superstars fortunately haven't dulled the keen blade of Basement Jaxx's production style. So raw you can't believe they spent over an hour per track, so perfect you're glad they stopped noodling about long before most producers would, and so poppy they should get picked up by commercial radio in America as well as the rest of the world, Rooty is the second straight triumph from a pair of producer/DJs who look set to carry the torch for dancefloor electronica in the years to come. Titled after the duo's just-recently-closed club night, this is a true party album -- shot through with no-attention-span tangents, bridges, and interrupted samples, nowhere better than on the psychedelic soul of "Broken Dreams," with its Tijuana Brass horns and Middle Eastern flute. Though it's missing the genre-spanning flair and red-line energy that made 1999's Remedy the best dance album of the '90s, Rooty comes very close, with a similar emphasis on swinging rhythms and slapping percussion. It's much funkier than Remedy, much closer to commercial pop, and much more sensuous, with several tracks of moaning, juiced-up funk from the Prince playbook. The opener, "Romeo," is groovy and luscious enough to be the next single from Destiny's Child (with a tad more vocal histrionics), and almost every track features vocalists who sound less like professional singers (or flavor-of-the-month robots) and more like they've been tapped as finalists at a posh karaoke bar. (A few of those female-sounding vocalists are actually the Jaxx themselves, altered slightly.) Add a little filtered disco ("Jus 1 Kiss"), a track of rowdy New York house (the Gary Numan-sampling "Where's Your Head At," with background shouting from Erick Morillo and Junior Sanchez), bleepy acid house ("Crazy Girl"), and some P-Funked-up house ("Breakaway") and the result is a stunning, diverse album that's not only an immediate winner but a great album down the line as well. You can take the boys out of Brixton, but you just can't take Brixton out of the boys.
by John Bush