It might seem odd starting a review of England’s ‘most exciting band’ by talking about the French but you’re not the one writing this shit. Last year Daft Punk released Random Access Memories, arguably the first fully disco album in several decades. As much as everyone might be sick of it now, ‘Get Lucky’, marked a resurgence in disco. Combine that with the explosion of British soul from Sam Smith and John Newman, it’s certainly been brewing under the surface for several years. Our favourite hype man Jai Paul, having released his jam, ‘Jasmine’ in early 2011 could perhaps claim he started it all, but that’s a whole other article.
Back to the present, we now arrive at the collective known as Jungle. Having managed to remain relatively anonymous until being unearthed at Glastonbury like a pair of white bunnies from under a magician’s hat…when most of us were expecting black ones, the fact that founding members, J & T are two pretty mundane looking white guys only added to the drama of their emergence. XL Records have successfully ensured they were ready for the limelight, with a string of perfectly marketed singles and equally perfect videos, anyone who’s been following their hype machine will know that Jungle is for dancing.
The debut eponymous album opens with ‘The Heat’ arguably their biggest single to date, all 1974 funky bass, synths and falsetto. Although that formula changes little throughout the whole album, that’s the point. Imagine the Bee Gees were living in West London, 2014, and you’ll understand what this album is. It takes that disco vibe, finger clicking rhythms and impeccably soulful falsetto harmonies produced in a thoroughly post-recession (yes that is a thing) manner.
The first half is predominantly made up of records we’ve heard before, ‘Platoon’ and ‘Drops’ showing of a darker side, whilst recent singles ‘Time’ and ‘Busy Earnin’’ truly set a new standard for what critics seem to have coined, modern-soul, you can’t help but move to the music. The excitement of the record is somewhat hastened as these singles have been already played so much, so anyone coming to this with fresh ears is bound to be blown away. It’s a sorry state of affairs that most EP’s nowadays end up on the album in their entirety, simply because the music industry moves at such a forgetfully rapid pace.
Nonetheless, around half the record is made up of new tracks, and they definitely equal, if not surpass the singles. ‘Accerlate’, a down tempo, heartfelt ballad against “has-beens” is well placed to break up the first side. ‘Julia’ with its stirring ‘to me you’re just a girl’, and impromptu bike bell breaks, will undoubtedly be the next single. The return of funk guitar is heard on ‘Crumbler’, with some of the best harmonies on the album, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke filled 70s bars this could have been played in.
Album finale, ‘Lemonade Lake’, takes a different approach, with a single voice, produced to sound very much underwater, that ‘Hah’ so effortlessly smooth. The chorus rises up from below the depths to proclaim “I miss you”, in complete psychedelic, Isley Brothers elation, only for us to cry it back as soon as the track finishes. The final line, “I don’t know what went wrong…I’ve been searching for you for all these years,” seems awfully pertinent. The search is over; British live music might have a saviour at last. The beauty of Jungle is that they have the potential to be played in the clubbing environment as electronic music, but the instrumentation and live experience of a full seven piece band.
My advice is purchase the vinyl, not only do you get a free poster, but you might bag yourself a moment in music history. The disco heat is back. Let’s hope everyone catches Jungle’s fever.