Album: Jamiroquai

Dynamite, SONY BMG
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The relentless attempt to represent "grime" as a force in club culture continues apace, but any dispassionate assessment would have to conclude that it is no more likely to significantly affect the mainstream than previous spiky urban strains such as jungle/ drum'n'bass and garage/two-step. The real sound of the UK dancefloor remains exactly where it was five, 10, 15 years ago - with the well-crafted, easy-on-the-ear retro-funk of Jamiroquai, whose first album in four years will doubtless emulate its multi-platinum predecessor A Funk Odyssey in assuming residency atop the album charts.

It's not hard to see why: as a punter, you know what you're getting. There's something comfortingly familiar about the band's sound, which is as amenable here as it was years ago in the hands of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire, if not quite as brimful of inspiration. The bulk of the band's energies has clearly been expended not on modernising its formula with tricky beats and hip-hop attitude, but on polishing further the basics of meticulous technique, hooky refrains and slick production on which its reputation was established.

Recorded live in the studio, then nipped, tucked and toughened up by digital tweaking, Dynamite is as smooth and muscular as a Chippendale's chest, and about as slippery too, the strutting bass and slick rhythm guitar locking together on tracks like "Starchild" and "Electric Mistress" (even the titles have been imported from the Seventies). Which is not to say Jay Kay & co have been entirely static. In particular, "Love Blind" and "Feels Just Like It Should" have a fatter, dirtier sound than usual - more rock-funk than funk-rock, almost.

Lyrically, it's much the same mix of sexual intrigue and political complaint as before, with the sardonic "Give Hate a Chance" and "World That He Wants", a heavily orchestrated piano ballad about George Bush ("This is the world he wants/ Pray for the brave and the young/ It won't bring them back again"), balanced by the more personal regret of "Talulah", in which Kay's attitude is betrayed by his pronunciation of her name as "tell-you-lie". "I thought the sparks would fly, and we would break apart," he muses, yearning after the ex who dumped him - but his real regret seems to be that he was beaten to the punch,.

Elsewhere, "Black Devil Car" is the mandatory car-song, its big rock-riff refrain carrying dodgy lines like "She had the greenest eyes/ And with those endless thighs/ I put my hands to some misdemeanours". Absurdly un-PC, but no more than we should expect. Indeed, while songwriters from Chuck Berry to Prince have employed the car as a metaphor for sex, Kay is the only one whose love songs, you suspect, are actually coded expressions of devotion to his four-wheeled mistresses.

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