YOU CAN'T OPEN A magazine these days without stumbling upon some wide-eyed music journalist waxing orgasmic about Basement Jaxx. That's not to say the spewings are unwarranted, but if you've peered into any major music rag this summer, you know the story well.

Basement Jaxx's debut long-player, Remedy, has its ducks in a row. Hip vocoder-style vocals? Check. Latin flourishes that would make Ricky Martin proud? Si. Edgy drum 'n' bass production? Timbaland-esque beats? Party-like-it's-1999-style house? Hell, yeah. And that's where Basement Jaxx really hit the jackpot. The pre-apocalyptic message of the single "Red Alert" is just in time for millennium madness to hit full blast.

Rock critics don't understand dance music and make up for what they lack in comprehension with over-the-top praise. Two years ago they were calling it "electronica," which was supposed to resuscitate the ailing pop genre. It didn't, but dance music is still around, and now these critics know there's something to it.

Months of build-up and hype have put Basement Jaxx in a pretty uneasy spot. Where a lesser-known band would do fine to just saunter on stage, twiddle a few knobs and be done with it, Basement Jaxx have to prove themselves. In short, they're poised for disaster.

I'm guessing the Jaxx's live set will be a disappointment to eager stateside audiences. Dance music just wasn't cut out for consumption by America's short-attention-span consumers. And Remedy is by all means a dance-pop album. It uses vocals, but the sexy voices don't at all match up with the scruffy Brits whose name is slapped on them. Pop music is all about the package. Just ask Britney Spears. Forget not judging a book by the cover, in the MTV-driven pop world, the cover is all that matters.

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