It’s “virtual insanity!” That’s right, Jamiroquai is back with their first full-length studio album in seven years, Automaton, available now from Virgin EMI.
Following the success of the Brit-funk collective’s 2010 album, Rock Dust Light Star, the 11-member band toured the globe and later remastered and reissued their first three studio albums, before finally heading to the studio in 2013, to begin work on Jamiroquai’s eighth studio album.
Lead vocalist/co-founder Jay Kay always seems to reemerge in the height of fashion, and this time is no different. Known for his extensive collection of fashionable headwear, Kay returns in the new music video “Automaton,” only this time, sporting an interactive LED helmet.
The lead single delivers a much more electronic pop sound than fans of early ’90s Jamiroquai may have expected, however, Kay and company pull it off brilliantly. The funk-infused single was released in January and helps set a futuristic tone for the rest of the album.
In an interview with Billboard, Kay explains, “the inspiration for ‘Automaton’ is in recognition of the rise of artificial intelligence and technology in our world today, and how we as humans are beginning to forget the more pleasant, simple and eloquent things in life and our environment, including our relationship with one another as human beings.”
The second single, “Cloud 9,” breaks away from the deeper technological theme of the album, with a smoother dance-pop feel. The music video features actress Monica Cruz, who plays Kay’s hard-to-get love interest in this classic “cat and mouse” story. It also includes some strikingly similar moments to the band’s 1996 hit, “Cosmic Girl,” which featured bandmates Kay and bassist Stuart Zender in a high-speed cruise through the countryside.
Automaton opens with “Shake It On,” a rhythmic mix of contemporary house music and 1970’s disco, which is guaranteed to get you up and out on the dance floor.
In an interview with Universal Music Deutschland, Kay explains that he wrote the track “Superfresh,” as a more visual experience. Mixing in elements like auto-tune, the song delivers a groovy uptempo melody that is vaguely reminiscent of Blondie‘s 1978 classic, “Heart of Glass.”
According to Kay, another of the album’s breakout tracks, “Nights Out in the Jungle,” was originally written out of empathy for Amy Winehouse and how she was treated by paparazzi.
“People who were there, who kind of should know better, saying ‘go on you can do it, get on stage.’ Putting her on the stage in the state she was in is criminal,” Kay explains. “So it was just that kind of like constant crap… not being able to see anything as you come out of the club with all the flashing and flashing.”
Kay continues to explain that “Nights Out in the Jungle” was written with full lyrics, but became a much more stripped down and ominous sound for the album.
“Dr. Buzz” is a fun, more uplifting track all about… you guessed it, getting high. According to Kay, the song is all about winding down after enduring a night of “street hoodlum hell.”
“You should imagine most people just want to go home and forget about it,” he explains.
The album comes to a close with the song, “Carla,” which Kay said is a much more emotional track for him.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s simple. I think it comes from the heart,” Kay said. “It’s exactly what I wanted it to be. There is nothing I would change about it and I think it’s a really nice way to end the album.”