Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Basement Jaxx – Raindrops

One of those cases where the logo is prettier than the band…


Iain Mew: As a metaphor, mere raindrops don’t really do justice here. Each high is more like a new onrushing wave of sound and melody, with the distant chimes falling into the gaps acting as an anticipation-building counterpoint. The weedy vocalist initially sounds like being a sticking point, but since he just gets washed along by everything else too it’s not much of one.

Renato Pagnani: There’s a lot going on, but all the individual parts work together toward a unified goal, rather than duke it out amongst each other. The song still feels huge, just not the kind of huge that’s bursting at the seams, but the kind that emerges when a great melody’s given proper room to breathe, something Basement Jaxx, when they’re on their game, do better than anyone else. Sure, the lyrics are essentially a vehicle for the Buxton’s deliciously dramatic man-diva vocals and that massive chorus, but that’s the entire point. “Raindrops” hits in four minutes the sort of emotional sweetspot that most dance acts require (at minimum) eight to find, and that’s always been the Jaxx’s greatest strength.

Alex Ostroff: Constantly morphing production, each bit of it better than the last. Starts off with a sitar leading into guitar fuzz and pan flutes before exploding into echoey house for the verses. By the time the chorus hits, “Raindrops” explodes into a joyous synthy vocoder dance party. The bridge cribs the arpeggios from Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic and then dissipates into music box fragility and guitar solos. Derivative, but fun enough to overcome even the cringeworthy “your moisture drips upon my lips, just like a waterfall straight through the heart of me.”

David Raposa: I know saying a Basement Jaxx track is “too much” is like Salieri hating on Mozart, but I just cannot get with this. And, yes, I know this is a personal problem, and will start medicating immediately.

Hillary Brown: Docked a couple of points for unexpected grossness in the lyrics that sneaks up on one, but mostly this is a burst of cheery chaos, a reminder that Basement Jaxx can make dance music out of anything, even a beginning that sounds like Beat Happening.

Martin Kavka: Basement Jaxx seem to have placed all of their previous singles in a blender. One would think that this would make this track their best single ever; instead, it just engenders a desire to turn this off and listen to their greatest hits.

Michaelangelo Matos: It’s hard to hate outright, but since I still love the first three albums unreservedly, and liked Crazy Itch Radio, “hard to hate” is the most pernicious kind of faint praise. I can’t even imagine it hitting me upside the head on a dance floor, and not just because I almost never go out dancing anymore, or because it’s overcooked — it gains definition with repeat plays, but not enough. It’s aimed solidly at radio (which kind is another question), but buries its hooks.

Alex Macpherson: The beat plods, a vocal flails hither and thither in vain search of a hook to sing, and a handful of notes trudge wearily up and down the scale, forced into acting as though they constituted the sort of gigantic riff that Basement Jaxx used to pump out effortlessly. Every so often the track pretends it has build-ups and breakdowns, to no avail, because there is fundamentally nothing to show here.

Edward Okulicz: This is great music for thinking vaguely about the idea of dancing.

Jonathan Bradley: “Raindrops” knows it wants to sound like its chart-topping, floor-filling dance music contemporaries — you know, the DJ-someone-helmed type that jam as many skimpily clad women into their videos as possible — but it never truly succumbs to the thrilling release of its less cerebral brethren. This is an odd plea to make of the duo responsible for “Where’s Your Head At”, but couldn’t this have been a little stupider?

Additional Scores

John M. Cunningham: [8]
Ian Mathers: [6]
Jordan Sargent: [8]
Martin Skidmore: [5]
Keane Tzong: [7]

12 Responses to “Basement Jaxx – Raindrops”

  1. “knows it wants to sound like its chart-topping contemporaries”.

    10 quid, here and now, on this reaching #1 on the UK singles chart. And it will deserve it.

  2. You’re probably right, Matias, but everything reaches #1 on the UK charts. Bob the Builder and Crazy Frog got to #1.

  3. It certainly does, which plenty explains why Basement Jaxx’s chart peak was “Rendez-Vu” reaching number four in August 1999, and why the singles off their last album peaked at a chart-busting 27 and 42.

  4. Matias, I will take you up on this. I reckon it will make top 20, not really much more than this. Write to the singles jukebox email address!

    Interesting to note how lukewarm a lot of these reviews are even though the scores aren’t that low. They’re such a crit-friendly band that people are afraid to give them less than 5!

  5. Ah, you see, Swygart, you’ve stumbled upon the arcane Crazy Itch Radio exception, which holds that singles from Crazy Itch Radio can’t chart well because they weren’t at all good.

    (But “Rendez-Vu” is their best performer? Really? I would never have guessed that.)

  6. “They’re such a crit-friendly band that people are afraid to give them less than 5!” –> I’m still convinced a bit of this was going on with Fever Ray.

  7. Yeah, that almost makes sense, JM, except for there being only 3 folks out of 14 in hurr that went lower than 6 (two 4s, and yr 0) on the Fever Ray track.

    PS – GASFACE! :)

  8. Ah, you see, Swygart, you’ve stumbled upon the arcane Crazy Itch Radio exception, which holds that singles from Crazy Itch Radio can’t chart well because they weren’t at all good.

    Hey U and Take Me Back To Your House were very good, thank you very much. I am sure someone will interject to tell me how much they hate Martina Dragonette and Robyn but that sort of blatant denial of truth and righteousness is not my concern.

  9. I’m just as glad my blurb was left out, because David Raposa captured what I meant far more eloquently. In retrospect I probably should have gone a few points lower, though.

  10. I love Martina Dragonette but “Take Me Back To Your House” was about one billionth as good as any of the songs on Dragonette’s album, one trillionth if that song is “Take It Like A Man”.

    The difference between this and Fever Ray is that the Fever ray song is more repetitive (!) but less boring somehow, and the high scores were balanced with high praise. Here it’s faint, almost reluctant praise in the words but everyone still gives is 6 or 7! Not me, it’s rubbish!

  11. I thought my 5 here was harsh – I think I was partly reacting to the disappointment in the context of their magnificent past. If I’d never heard of the act it would probably have scored a point or two more from me.

  12. this song is the shit haters!!