Basement Jaxx, Crazy Itch Radio

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Crazy Itch Radio

Basement Jaxx

Basement Jaxx are veterans of London's house-music clubs of the early '90s, but across recent albums they've left those origins far behind. It's not just that the duo's style has expanded — even as club-music purveyors they were radically inclusive — but that their increasingly dense, detailed constructions, which draw from pop and R&B but include a dizzying array of oddball elements, are engineered for a far different kind of space. The filigreed strings of the country-leaning "Take Me Back to Your House," the hyper-compressed, multi-tracked funk of "Hush Boy," the curtain of bells, drums, horns and voices on the carnaval anthem "Run 4 Cover" — they're all stuffed with details that require the dry confines of headphones or, preferably, a car stereo to render all the obsessively wrought, kaleidoscopic elements in their proper resolution.

The London house-not-house duo creates a headphone explosion.

Bristling with hooks, choruses, and a million do-see-do'ing moments of rupture and resolution, Crazy Itch Radio is a grab bag of studio experiments, a few of which turn into pretty fine songs, notably the peppy, soca-infused "Hush Boy" and the string-heavy tearjerker "Lights Go Down." With over a quarter of the album's tracks comprised of intros, interludes and even an inexplicable "Intro Reprise," Crazy Itch Radio feels slight at times; for all the microscopic detail, the whole album can sweep by without leaving much of an impression. But when Basement Jaxx really digs in its claws, it still delivers a pretty satisfying scratch.