It was back in July, 2013 when an anonymous production outfit from the UK, shared ‘Platoon,’ their debut single under the name Jungle (their debut album, is also called Jungle). The element of mystery caused quite a stir at the time; as no-one really knew who they were. Despite the (very) limited information, however, the track was embraced with open arms, as its shimmering electronic nuances and the vibrant layered vocals personified the feel of summer.
As small inklings of new information began to surface, we came to know that they were, in fact, a duo, known simply as J and T, who dilate into a seven-piece band. So, having answered some of our questions, Jungle brought ‘The Heat’, another spellbinding concoction of breezy sounds, this time, underpinned by a wailing police siren, to soundtrack the warmer months. It was the track’s accompanying music video, however, which really made an impression. The clip captures two roller-skating b-boys, wearing matching tracksuits carrying out a full-fledged performance in perfect tandem.
So, when it was announced that the duo had signed to XL Records (Adele, Vampire Weekend, FKA twigs), and were set to release their full-length debut this past July, fans and listeners alike were keen to hear more. Enter, ‘Busy Earnin’: awash with sparkling synths and an eccentric horn section to begin with, the song served as the album’s lead single. Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland’s intonations of “Too busy earnin’ / Can’t get enough” in the chorus, give the record its character.
It’s with ‘Time’, a song sitting snugly at the core of the record, where Jungle really come to life. Crashing cymbals, lively drums and those ethereal falsettos fluttering around the packed production come together as one, and effortlessly intertwine to form a single cohesive sound.
Elsewhere on the album, it’s difficult to distinguish one song from another, as if the entire LP followed a single formula. The likes of ‘Drops’, ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’ and ‘Julia’ all encompass a straightforward 4×4 beat, with minimal differences in the arrangement of percussion or drums. Throughout the album, you feel like you’re stuck quicksand, there’s nowhere to go, so you simply have to stay where you. There’s no sense of progression, and when you do come across one in ‘Son of a Gun’ or album closer ‘Lemonade Lake’, it’s either too late, or you find yourself being pushed back with the successor.
As a result, Jungle doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by ‘Platoon’ and ‘The Heat’. That distinct, introspective flare seems to fade slightly in the album, only coming above the surface for a while before plunging back down.