Jungle

Jungle

XL

Aug 07, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


At times Jungle have felt like an enigma wrapped in a riddle. The elusive British duowhose LP will surely be counted amongst the year's most anticipated releasesmanage to generate waves of hype on little more than a handful of catchy tunes, a series of eminently clickable videos, and a thin veil of anonymity; they build a solid foundation distanced from the cult of personality. Of course, if you've scratched the surface then you'll have discovered that the pair are in fact Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarlandpreviously of Born Blondereturned from the indie-pop wilderness with an extended cadre of musicians and an infectious line in killer melodies.

Much like a pseudo greatest hits, the first half of their self-titled debut is populated with songs that will already feel very familiar. From singles such as the soul revivalism of "Time," which rubs alongside the late-night horns of "Drops," to the hot funk strut of "Busy Earnin'" a natural bedfellow to the sun-kissed summer jam of "The Heat." While new track "Accelerate" is an earworm that charms with rippling bass lines; a faltering relationship dissected over its subtle orchestration and recursive synths. Unfortunately, by the midway point the band start to run out of ideas. "Julia" feels like a retread of "Time"; "Smoking Pixels" is Ennio Morricone-tinged filler; and "Crumbler" seems flatly uninspired, the soundtrack to a city gent staggering around a bustling wine bar at midnight on a Wednesday. Thankfully, it's not a total washout as "Son of a Gun" and the meditative street gospel of "Lucky I Got What I Want" return the record to form, only to lose it on the banks of the ephemeral, '80s affected closer "Lemonade Lake."

The end result is an undeniably slick but ultimately superficial album. And it leaves the nagging sense that if the duo had focused less on hiding behind their production and more on writing some truly engaging pop songs, they might have created something exceptional. (www.junglejunglejungle.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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