The Designer’s Drugs: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Anno: 2010


To call Rock Dust Light Star Jamiroquai-by-numbers by no means diminishes the funk brilliance that the album puts on display.  For its latest effort, the band puts out a nice balance of swaggering R&B slow jams with rushing dance numbers, resulting in a well-rounded collection of New Disco.

Yet will all due respect to the bluesy wah overload of “Hurtin’” and the slick Motown cool of “Two Completely Different Things,” perhaps it’s a bit too well-rounded.  Jamiroquai is at its best when it turns up the tempo.  The album’s best evidence of this is “White Knuckle Ride,” which is every bit as swift as the name suggests.  Augmented by the hint of high end guitar funk, a few synth outbursts, and the presence of disco divas in the chorus, the beats and bass of this song create perfectly measured yet exhilarating dancefloor pop.  The formula also works to the band’s advantage in “All Good in the Hood,” though this song is more balanced instrumentally and more focused on vocalist Jay Kay’s soul singing.

The album’s great swerve comes on the final track, titled “Hey Floyd,” which comes off as a fully orchestrated, piano-led theme song to some 70s copsploitation film.  The song takes an odd detour into a reggae phase at one point, but most of the song conjures images of cops in leisure suits chasing dirtbags through the urban decay.  While “White Knuckle Ride” may be the album’s most exciting song, “Hey Floyd” is its most ambitious songwriting.

Perhaps Rock Dust Light Star could have used a little more dance and a little less mellow, but on the whole it’s great fun.

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