Review: Jungle will stand the test of time
‘Quintessential cool’ comes to mind when listening to the debut longplayer from London-based collective Jungle, but this is too simplistic a definition for such a refined sound. The duo, known as “J” and “T” (Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland) have been best friends since they were young but formed Jungle in 2013 and have literally sold-out gigs ever since. Performing live as a seven-piece, Jungle have garnered frequent radio rotation and their upcoming Australian tour, including Splendour In The Grass and various sideshows, have all but sold-out. Equally important to the music they create is the often viral videos that have accompanied them, and no less so with the clip for Time, which was made in collaboration with Oliver Hadlee Pearch – which reminded me of ‘that’ viral video featuring Christopher Walken in Weapon of Choice. Like many of their videos, the visuals are as beautifully shot and framed as the music which accompanies it, and have become as well known as their soulful sounds. The videos have lots of references to hip-hop imagery and themes and especially so in my personal favourite Busy Earning, featuring a lo-fi approach but with highly stylised and contagious visual content, also directed by Oliver Hadlee Pearch. Like their classic video for Platoon, their roots and sound are clear and well grounded. If the video for Busy Earning doesn’t have you wanting to grab a pair of Adidas and drop some old moves, nothing will.
Their self-titled album Jungle, out now on XL Recordings (who I knew better as releasing techno and dance tracks back in the early 90’s), is a class production and will stand the test of time, each track showing the complete control and mastery of artists who manage to deliver a range of tracks with touches of funk and jazz, further highlighted when performed live, and complete inner city soul. XL has been a home to some of the big names in music including Radiohead, Basement Jaxx, Adele and Atoms for Peace and no less so now with Jungle.
Sunday morning was a good time to give the new album a proper run through, if my four-year-old daughter woke and didn’t hold the sharpened toes of a barbie doll to my neck I’d know we were onto something good. As Accelerate oozed like liquid oxygen into the house, I heard the tell-tale creak of my daughter’s bed as she rose. My wife was grooving away in the kitchen making tea and I was listening intently for the sound of plastic being scraped on brick, lest my daughter’s disapproval manifest in some homemade shank-doll. But our lovechild bounced rhythmically down the hall and almost slid into the lounge room with a big smile on her face and hands and arms waving in a sleepy stupor dancing along. I changed tracks to Lucky I Got What I Want and together we all danced. This is a huge plus from me; if you can equally chill out to perfect grooves as much as you can get up on your feet and dance to it, then you’ve got magic. And this fairly well sums up the experience of this album for me. From Smoking Pixels to Lemonade Lake, every track had my family shaking it and we’ll be keeping this album on repeat for a long time to come.
Jungle is out now via XL Recordings / Remote Control.
Review by Damon Collum.