Once only known as the secretive duo of ‘J’ and ‘T’, it took a while for Jungle’s true identity to be revealed. Being unknown at the beginning is becoming the in-thing to do; it’s worked for Superfood and now it’s worked for Jungle. Comprised of Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, west London’s new funk-outfit buzz band have taken the music world by storm with the release of their debut, electronic-fuelled, eponymous album.
Appealing to the urbanites among us, ‘The Heat’ with its blaring sirens and falsetto vocals takes a minimalistic approach which still remains full of enough energy to make the most stubborn person to get into the groove. Contradictory of its title, ‘Accelerate’ takes the same casual pace as its predecessor but, with the opening line of “Sick of has-beens”, there’s an instant suggestion we will be seeing a lot more of Jungle in the future.
With its no-joke consumerism focus, you wouldn’t expect a big dance number from ‘Busy Earnin’’ but look no further for a new motivating workout song. Before even seeing the dance troupe in the video, it’s hard not to imagine Saved By The Bell’s jock Slater dressed in his renowned red vest and grey trackies dancing along, thanks to the trip-hop bass lines and jazzed-up hooks.
‘Platoon’ is essentially the sunglasses emoji; it’s the track you turn on when you’re in the mood to feel ironically cool but end up feeling cool regardless. Beginning ominously, it doesn’t take long for the standard funk beats to kick away from the tribal style sounds. Not wanting to detract from the murky yet dance evoking beats is ‘Drops’. Controlled by the snaps of fingers, the track appears to remain regulated but the attitude-filled hums and seducing melodies thrown into the mixture completely override it, causing a sprawled out concoction that just seems to work.
Back to the ’80s here we go for ‘Time’ – sharp disco-dancing rhythms with the continuing falsetto vocals that are yet to disagree. On to ‘Smoking Pixels’ – it’s not the 1980s anymore, more like the 1880s. Whistles overlain with a threat-filled accompaniment do nothing but confuse you in the short but sweet, euphoric interlude. A tale of unrequited love, the brooding track ‘Julia’ oozes a lovelorn side to Jungle that’s hiding something that those muted horns can’t help but divulge.
Winning the prize for best harmonies of the album is ‘Crumbler’. Backed by a funk-fuelled beat, things have somewhat returned to the customary head-nod melodies. Following the same pattern is ‘Son Of A Gun’ which, although keeping with the groove going, it’s more reflective in its approach. Adopt an exaggerated swagger and click along to ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’: pushing its way along with insistent synths, there’s a slight assertion to bring the track to an end but is overridden by the carefree haunts of “don’t you forget about me”. No one is going to forget about Jungle.
Finishing things on a psychedelic note is ‘Lemonade Lake’. Bubbling synths behind vocals that shift from an elongated, untroubled tone to a short and snappy approach leave you joining in with the cries of “I miss you” as the unanticipated ending approaches.
Jungle hasn’t shied away from flaunting Jungle’s triumph at producing electronic hits but the big question is whether they’ll be able to carry it on. The album carries the same theme throughout; falsetto vocals, decorative beats and ornate everything else, which does work seamlessly altogether but will it be a one off? Even if it is, Jungle’s debut is strong enough to take that burden.