Jungle Jungle XL Recordings
Since the once-anonymous collective Jungle released the firework of funk that was 2013’s The Heat EP, their bubbling presence across the UK gig scene and arsenal of infectious anthems has sent the hype machine into overdrive, raising the expectations for this debut album to outrageously high levels. But from feeding that flamboyant, tracksuit-clad illusion during those formative stages, the question still lingers: is the talent of Jungle a case of smoke and mirrors?
The Heat is a scintillating introduction, and as the already-familiar single Busy Earnin’ kicks in, the sky-high falsettos and oh-so-victorious trumpets make way for a beaming pop-filtered chorus that could plausibly be plastered over every celebratory BBC Sports package for the rest of the summer season. By choosing to keep these releases on the record, for better or worse, they are cemented as staples of the Jungle blueprint.
Last year’s Drops is irrefutably their finest work, with its shaded, rich-as-coffee textures and “I’ve been lovin’ you too long” croons emulsifying into a sensual listen. Smoking Pixels takes on a twist of Western whistles, and at first it seems like it could take an eccentric turn, but when the two-minute instrumental section arrives, it just ends up sounding downright peculiar. Tracks like Julia and Lucky I Got What I Want feel like breathers between the hits, and if you’re not paying attention, they might just fail to land. Otherwise, urgency isn’t an issue. Primary album teaser Time is razor-sharp, and Crumbler attests they can maintain the groove even when they’ve turned the gas down. Overall, Jungle will melt over your auditory senses, and its highlights make for a bold package that will permit the producers to continue surfing the wave of hype for a little while yet.