Jungle’s self-titled debut album has arrived confidently on the scene as a pulsating body of funky synths and urban drums, all run through a retro-style X-Pro Filter. The twosome’s Bee Gees-esque vocal harmonies perfectly match the up-tempo staccato licks of each track and I feel that Jungle have, without a doubt, captured the warm, lazy sounds of a dusky summer’s evening. They are no doubt going to resonate as part of the soundtrack to 2014.
The Heat opens this record with a silky mixture of crooning sirens and dripping synths, creating a world that is summer in the big city meets relaxing by the beach. The track is brought to life by an introductory vocal so velvety that it sounds like the narrative of a fairytale. Accelerate continues in a similar vein with ringing synths that are ever so slightly too similar to the initial number. However, the guitar riffs in between the chorus show how Jungle bring their special touch to each individual track. This aspect continues throughout the album; every little detail of each song – no matter how seemingly unnoticeable – feelis deliberately placed and thoroughly thought through.
Jungle then ramps it up a notch in Busy Earnin’ by adding a layer of fast-paced, grandiose dance groove over the firmly established chilled funk vibe. The track’s rasping undertones cushion the large, bouncy trumpet section. This works in their favour, resulting in one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. This same level of energy is recreated later on during the infectious Time.
On the whole, Jungle succeeds by setting a base template sonically for the entire album and then building on it with slightly different twists for each individual track. Indeed, just after the up-tempo dance vibe of Busy Earnin’, the record veers off in the somewhat slowed down and darker territory of Drops and Platoon. The drawn out brass backing and minor key piano of Drops create a more sombre tone than on the rest of the album.
Smoking Pixels’ computer-chip throb is flecked with a wild-Western cool, providing an interlude at the midway point of the record. The big hitting Julia rouses the album back around with a melancholy dance number that’s complete with blazing trumpets, whilst Crumbler adds a perky Motown feel.
As Jungle reaches the end portion of the record, the tracks begin to wind down with Lucky I Got What I Want returning to the minor key that Drops earlier instigated. while Son Of A Gun reverberates with a dark lustre. However, the closing track, Lemonade Lake, skips along with fittingly fizzy crackles and sugary euphoric synths.
As an album, Jungle is a neat collection of chilled out, funk-infused dance tracks. The production is finished to a very high standard and this more than makes up for the sparse lyrical content. Critically, I would point out that the record’s singles are the best tracks. Therefore, I’m not sure if there are any hidden gems left to discover. What’s more, the record may be slightly repetitive for those who are not keen on the lazy vibes it exudes.
Picks:Busy Earnin’, Time, Julia