It is a dialogic movie trope to have two middle-aged men arguing light-heartedly over dinner about Steely Dan’s credentials: one claims musical mastery, the other claims soulless boredom. I fear people who do not like Steely Dan and who would not like this record. Their world bewilders me. On ‘Aja’, the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen embody everything slick, starkly isolating precise components and bringing them together with the snappiest of timings. The lyrics relate distant sentimentality with bizarre tales of old-school, loser-ish adversity. The overall package asks nothing beyond an easy listen: the sonic equivalent of an automated massage chair. ‘Aja’ is perfect music.
A favourite: It’s all great, but ‘Deacon Blues’, I suppose.