July 17, 2014

1404886486_cover Brad Beatson can give it to you but whatcha gon’ do with it?

I’ve got this image of everybody standing on the beach somewhere, and there’s this festival on the beach and everyone’s having a really great time. There’s like people surfing, sharks in the ocean, police cars are like pulling up on the beach. And there’s this band, you know, this amazing band, just the whole stage is bouncing. And you can’t actually hear individual people, you just hear this one continuous sound, this one continuous note that keeps changing. — J, all quotes taken from our interview with Jungle

That’s exactly how the album starts; a rippling ocean, friendly laughter, and the cops pulling up on the beach. A sample repeats “bring the heat” as Jungle lives up to J’s image over the next 39 minutes. These background elements set the scene throughout: “Accelerate” opens to the sounds of a basketball court, “Drops” aches with gently closed doors, and Jungle finishes where it began, with waves crashing on the beach.

But the catchy refrains make the music stick, thanks to  T & J’s mixed falsetto/baritone delivery. They hover above the constant groove, echoing universal thoughts on nearly every track. “Doing all that I can, for you”; “Who do you think you are”; “Can’t get enough”; “I’ve been lovin’ you too long”; “Time and time again”;”You’ll be all I ever need”; “I don’t know what went wrong”; “I can’t get you out of my mind”. The songwriting allows you to sing along the first time you hear a track, and at about three-minutes-&-a-crafty-bridge each, they fail to grow stale. That’s not to say they’re audio Twinkies, the music is far too inventive to be considered over-the-counter Pop.

I think there is a conscious effort in trying not to sound like other things. Obviously, with laziness, it’s easy to sound like something else, that’s why when it’s two of us it’s very easy to be like: “wait a minute… I’ve heard that before” and that doesn’t excite me. Even when you’re coming to the end of a record, you almost find you’re copying yourself”— J

Like many contemporary records, Jungle‘s sounds were crafted in a bedroom studio, combining traditional instruments with computer programs to produce the duo’s style. The result is infectious drum-based rhythms, more often than not in a 4/4, that leave enough room for keys, guitars, backup vocals and more percussion. (The most infectious moment? Whatever follows the brief silence, 16-or-so seconds into “Julia”) There are sounds on the album that come up more than once, but one’s successor is never a facsimile, they’re akin to a comedic callback. Jungle‘s completeness is all the more impressive when you consider 5 of the 12 cuts were heard prior to release day (7 if you count the trailer and the new single “Time”).

But really, that’s mostly impressive to an Internet obsessive music nerd. The majority of listeners will be hearing these songs for the first time. Having heard half of the album ahead of “Time”, I was convinced I was going to dig the project, and was even more excited to find that the new tracks expanded on Jungle’s sound.

It’s their sound that has come under the most fire. Some critics assume the name Jungle is an homage to the electronic music style of the same name, and seemingly hold it against them for not living up to their presumptions, especially when paired with the groups viral, anonymous videos. Before their first show, all fans knew about the group were their videos for “Platoon” and “The Heat” that featured B-Girl Terra and the High Rollaz skating duo, respectively. They had no idea if they were the jumpsuit-clad skaters, and didn’t receive any hints from their lead interview with The Guardian. When it was revealed that they were two white guys, some felt misled. But it was never Jungle’s intention to mislead anyone: they were choosing to share the spotlight and to highlight these brilliant dance acts on film.

We love the idea of dance, I think dance is incredibly important. It’s that freedom of expression and when you give dancers music to work with, you see a whole different set of emotions that you wouldn’t necessarily have found on your own — T

And it’s about those people, it’s about those emotions. It’s about them telling you something or telling you a story…that’s the art, that’s what it’s about. It’s about ego, really. There’s no ego. — J

That being said, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed that the duo in “The Heat” video didn’t come out on skates when I saw the band in Brooklyn. But the feeling passed almost immediately, as Jungle’s 7-piece live outfit sounded as good as they did on record. The crowd bounced throughout the set, convincing everyone their tunes, more than the visuals, were responsible for their rise. No matter the setting, the self-titled debut never fails to make me dance.

Three Live Sessions

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