British duo Basement Jaxx's first album in five years is called Junto (Spanish for "together"), a title that plays into the romanticized cliché that house music is a unifying force. And in the high-level commercial pop environment where Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton have been operating since the release of their debut in 1999, unity is necessity.
Although bowel-emptying EDM began throttling the dance mainstream during their hiatus, Basement Jaxx have wisely stuck to their effusive and crisply produced brand of genre-hopping club music, which reaches its climax on the piano house banger Never Say Never, featuring a heartfelt turn by singer ETML.
While Junto is packed with hooks, oddball sounds and samples and energetic vocal performances, the quest for universality neuters even their most distinctive collaborators. Cameos by punky rapper Mykki Blanco on Buffalo and house stalwart DJ Sneak on Sneakin' Toronto are fun but not particularly memorable. The Spanish words for comfort and familiarity could also apply.
Top track: Never Say Never