It's so easy to hate, to fear the [B]Jaxx[/B]. Flick through their CV and read the kiss of death, those dreaded six words: The Best New Band In Britain....
It's not hard to find out: their stern faces are everywhere, on every magazine cover. And in these magazines you can find out about their legendary club that, oops, doesn't exist any more, about how many cool American DJs think they're cool too, about Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton's boho, edgy Camberwell lifestyle, about their degrees in engineering and languages, about how they've invented 'punk garage'... and, yes, these are all fair, knee-jerk reasons to hate Basement Jaxx. 'Remedy', however, is not.
Indeed, 'Remedy' is probably as good a dance album (and that's dance as in, have a dance) as anyone from these Isles has produced this decade. Hate them that little bit more now? Come on, fight it. Imagine, instead, that you're fiddling through the radio band looking for something that, for a change, consistently surprises and lifts you. 'Remedy' is that pirate. It's a wonderful new frequency where house, ragga, techno, soul, funk... Jesus, [I]flamenco [/I]are all mashed together and it feels like some kind of perfect moment.
It's a soundtrack that starts frantically in the dead of night and progresses to a peaceful, if disoriented dawn. Here is beautifully melodic dance music that's free of pretensions, but rammed with bold intelligence; that hits you as hard in the guts as it does in the feet. It's an excellent ride.
It starts unconventionally with the folk techno barrage of 'Rendez-Vu', all flamenco guitars, vocoder and romantic longing, and really doesn't look back. Marvel at 'Jump'n'Shout''s heads-down/hands-up ragga nuttiness (MC Slarta quite rightly scorning those who, "never did know the rules/They never did go to Basement Jaxx school"). Laugh at the genius of turning The Selecter's 'On My Radio' into a punky hip-hop anthem on 'Same Old Show'. And wonder how Goldie can ever make another concept album now that his whole long-playing career has been so economically condensed into 'Always Be There''s spun-out six minutes.
These are some of the peaks on an album that really - save for 'Bingo Bango''s over-exuberant Latino outburst - doesn't have any dips. In fact 'Remedy' describes itself accurately. Maybe it will cure the British dance disease of confusing intelligence with a need to journey up its own arse, and it highlights, once again, that musical boundaries are only there to be blurred. Above all, though, it blasts your petty prejudices clean out of the water.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday