Basement Jaxx, "Scars"

Album Review
4

If Basement Jaxx has a flaw, it's the group's tendency to overdo: too many of the craziest sounds you've ever heard happening at once, at too high a volume, surrounding one defenseless vocal line. But the U.K. production duo has found a happy medium between total sonic freedom and pop-wise efficiency on its fifth album, "Scars." The release is a study of balanced brilliance, a junkyard carnival of found sounds and international influences. The irresistible start-stop title track features a Kelis vocal over a gothic choir, chopped into syncopated bits. The song "Twerk" recalls Basement Jaxx's jump-up mix of N*E*R*D's "She Wants to Move," while the track "Saga" takes Santigold into ska territory-with a cartoon-like ghoulishness, a la Scooby-Doo. Crooner Sam Sparro leads the album standout "Feelings Gone" with a faithfully soulful vocal over a kinetic dance rhythm that would make Annie Lennox proud. But by closing the song with unadorned strings, Basement Jaxx seems to be finding feeling in its new efficiency.- Kerri Mason

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