The album has sold 4,000,000 copies to date. The track "Morning Glory" was sampled in "Bite Our Style (Interlude)", a track by Missy Elliott from her album Supa Dupa Fly. A similar occurrence occurred with "Manifest Destiny", sampled in "Who Do U Believe In", a track by Tupac Shakur from his album Better Dayz.
Rolling Stone gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, claiming "Jay Kay is a wonderfully nimble singer with a Stevie Wonder jones, and Jamiroquai parlay jazzy soul pop so tight it crackles....Nowadays, when most funk comes out of cans, Jamiroquai's live spark glows."Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B- rating, claiming "No idle nostalgia broker, Jamiroquai is a funk-making machine with a bright future in the past."Q magazine also gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, claiming "An ebullient follow-up to his storming debut." The Source claimed "The Return Of The Space Cowboy is a mixture of acid jazz-like keyboards with an overlay of bright horns and hard basslines....This group may still be light years ahead of the hip-hop world." Musician claimed "...sounds like a bastard spawn of Stevie Wonder and Mandrill with its vintage keyboards, jazz harmonies and fondness for rambling, jam-oriented arrangements..."
"The Kids" was released as the album's lead single on 30 June 1994, exclusively in Japan. The track was recorded shortly after the Emergency on Planet Earth sessions. "The Kids" was written and performed during the 1993 Emergency on Planet Earth tour. It may either have been an outtake from the album, or simply a song written after the album was fully produced and released. The live versions played during the tour had a different chorus when compared to the album version. After "The Kids" was recorded with previous drummer, Nick Van Gelder, Derrick McKenzie replaced Nick and all tracks from the Space Cowboy recording sessions were re-recorded with McKenzie on drums, aside from "The Kids", on which van Gelder's drumming remains. The song was probably left to be as it was because of time constraints related to the mastering process, production and release.
"Space Cowboy" was released as the album's international lead single on 26 September 1994. The single peaked at #17 on the UK Singles Chart and was their first #1 on the U.S. Dance Chart. Two very distinct versions of the song exist. One was recorded with Stuart Zender on bass, uses a 'bass slap' technique during the chorus. This version is commonly known as the "Stoned Again Mix". The second version, the one that appears on the album is considerably different. The bass on the album version was not played by Zender, but by an unknown artist only credited as "Mr. X" in the booklet.
"Half the Man" was released as the album's third overall single on 7 November 1994. The track peaked at #15 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was featured on the soundtrack of cult British surf movie Blue Juice. With the exception of its inclusion on both regular and deluxe Japanese pressings, it is one of nine singles that does not appear on the group's greatest hits album.
"Light Years" was released as the album's fourth overall single on 2 May 1995. The song only peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart due to little promotion of its release. In the United States, the song peaked at #6 on the U.S. Dance Chart. The American version of the single features three mixes of the song by David Morales. The American album release features a live version of "Light Years", performed in Merseille in December 1994, as a bonus track. Two main versions of the song exist - a radio edit, running at 3:59, and an album version, which lasts for 5:53.
"Stillness in Time" was released as the album's fifth overall single on 19 June 1995. The track peaked at #9 on the UK Singles Chart, making it the group's highest charting release to that date. The song was covered by Calvin Harris on the Radio 1 Established 1967 collection, which was released in 2007. Three versions of the track exist: a radio edit, which runs at 3:43, the album version, which runs at 4:11, and the vinyl version, which runs at 6:13. The music video strikes some similarities to the video for "Light Years", as they both feature Jamiroquai snowboarding down a mountain.
"Morning Glory" was released only a few copies for the promo. The release itself is the holy grail of Jamiroquai releases for collectors, since two more tracks aside from the album version appear on the promo - "Morning Glory" (Edit), "Morning Glory" (Instrumental) and "Stillness in Time" (Edit).