Mr. Scruff Trouser Jazz

Andy Carthy's past record, Keep It Unreal, was a beautifully crafted surprise filled with lush orchestration and slow jazz beats. But it was the closing track that got everyone talking about Mr. Scruff. "Fish" was a quirky, feel good track and a good laugh that got everyone shaking their ass on the dance floor. Fans of "Fish" and the light-heartedness that goes along with Carthy's records will probably enjoy Trouser Jazz a great deal, for this follow-up is more on the up-beat and kooky tip than the slinky hip-hop beats Scruff dropped three years ago. The children's birthday party soundtrack busts out with "Sweet Smoke," which sounds like a cross between a blaxploitation film and a Japanese game show. It's a decent track and is pretty much what you would expect from Scruff, but the fact that it sets the stage for the rest of the record is a little frightening. The great thing about Keep It Unreal was that it touched on various degrees of style and influence - mainly hip-hop and jazz - but this time around, it seems Scruff wants to move the crowd more than anything. So when looked at as an album for the dance floor, Trouser Jazz is very uplifting and enjoyable, and cuts like "Ug," from Ninja Tune's Xen compilation, and "Shelf Wobbler" are some of his greatest accomplishments when it comes to up-tempo efforts. Compared to his stunning previous release, Trouser Jazz is a bit of a disappointment. Then again, this all comes down to personal taste and from what angle you most enjoy Scruff. (Ninja Tune)