Jamiroquai Synkronized

The horn-headed boy wonder with a big, sweet mouth is back, and after years of slagging off rave culture for its so-called artificially-produced sounds, the pulsating disco tempos of his latest disc suggests that Mr. Jay Kay has been enjoying himself on more than a few hits of E since the band's last release. Soundwise, Synkronized is Jamiroquai's most sophisticated production. Every note on this disc is played with personality. The bass lines are break dancing, the hi-hats are high, and the strings just soar throughout. "Canned Heat," "Planet Home" and "Where Do We Go From Here?" sound more like hi-NRG and house than acid jazz, while slower tempos on "Falling" and "Butterfly" ease the pressure for Jay Kay's more romantic musings. The most inventive track on Synkronized is the dreamy instrumental "Destitute Illusion." Toby Smith's keyboard arrangements are psychedelic and soulful, recalling Tangerine Dream as much as Stevie Wonder. As for Kay, its hard to tell what exactly he's singing about half of the time, except that the inspiration he's feeling is extraordinary. When he testifies "I know I've found a God I can pray to" on "Soul Education," you know the brother's in control. The songs don't come anywhere close to the smooth balance of funk and environmentalism in their earlier material, but their philosophy of pre-millennial escapism makes this one of the most energetic recordings Jamiroquai has released in years. (S2)