Basement Jaxx Inflicts “Scars”

Almost a decade after the release of the hit song “Where’s Your Head At?” British duo Felix Burton and Simon Ratcliffe continue to keep Basement Jaxx on top of the musical curve with the release of their new album, “Scars.”

The 13-track “Scars” incorporates jumpy rhythms and instantly catchy melodies courtesy of a wide array of supporting artists including Kelis, Santigold, Sam Sparro and Yoko Ono.

With the release of this album in September, Burton and Ratcliffe show how far they have come since “Where’s Your Head At?” Growing from decidedly British disco into a versatile and upbeat semi-British house team, the duo continues to bring fresh material to the table.

Over the past years, Basement Jaxx has been perfecting its own style and re-mixing songs for artists from Justin Timberlake to Missy Elliot. These skills are evident as Basement Jaxx returns with the chest-thumping, bass-pounding beats we know paired with so many featured artists we won’t soon forget.

The first single, “Raindrops,” and the following single, “Feelings Gone,” are reminiscent of the duo’s earlier music in the best ways. Swooping melodic harmonies and catchy but not repetitive vocals make these songs radio-worthy material. “Raindrops” is the only song that does not take advantage of collaborative help, showcasing a synthesized Burton.

The album begins to show its range with songs such as “Saga” and “My Turn,” where a variety of up-and-coming and semi-hot artists really bounce off the upbeat and psychedelic beats. Yoko Ono, the former wife of legendary John Lennon, appears in the surprise gem, “Day of the Sunflowers – We March On.” The song tests the harmonic boundaries with nearly reckless melodies that are never dull.

Overall, the album jumps from dance to trance, and from to trippy to uppity in one of the most enjoyable balancing acts.

“Scars” is definitely one of the most stylistically explorative of the Basment Jaxx albums; not once are listeners to be bored as new and surprising elements are constantly added on every track. Sounding like nothing they’ve created before, the album progresses smoothly, introducing a plethora of energetic and exciting instruments, beats and sounds.

Influences for this album are far and wide, ranging from ska (“Saga”) to club (“Feelings Gone” and “Raindrops”) to slow and melodic (“A Possibility” and “My Turn”). The playability of this album can be anywhere from the club to the living room. Despite the fact that it has been eight years since the release of “Where’s Your Head At?” and the near decade has been filled with highly sought re-mixes, “Scars” is no conclusion for the British duo. In fact, “Scars” feels like it could be a turning point for the duo. Their international appeal comes from their constantly evolving and soaring melodies that scrape the ceilings of the club/house genre.

Certainly less danceable than its predecessors, “Scars” is an adventurous dive into new territory for Basement Jaxx. The true beauty of this album comes from the extensive collaborations and unexpected musical elements that continue to surprise.