By Leah Ogden
Released on September 14th, Jungle’s “For Ever” shows off a fresh twist on not only Hi-Fi funk, but their own personal sound. This was their first release since their self-titled debut in 2014, but they have yet another in the works. Emerging in 2013, Jungle was founded by two childhood friends known as J and T. Placing great value on the artistic presentation of their image, they eventually became a 7-piece band with a gnarly reputation for their live performances.
In their new studio album, London’s modern soul group Jungle grew into their own electric taste of classic soul. Their second release, “For Ever,” sends its listener into a comfortable space characterized by smooth, steady jams. Considerably more disco-esque than their first album, “For Ever” was an experiment for the band that allowed them to show different strengths and sounds that they can offer. It contains heavier dance beats, less mellow percussion, and riskier distortions than their previous work.
According to interviews they’ve done with Billboard, the band has stated that while working on this release, they were struggling with newfound fame (after the success of their first album and a clip from one of their music videos going “viral”), feeling “trapped” within the bounds of their preceding style, and the loss of a close friend- and a surprising amount of their titles’ lyrics play on a glorified life in California (for a band from London, at least) and a general pursuit of happiness in our current society.
The band’s vocals are recognizable by a light, falsetto sound; and they remain pretty constant throughout their discography with this, as it almost never varies. The high-pitched male vocals aren’t exactly my thing, but they seem to know how to balance it within their style–it’s never too overpowering. Jungle’s music also includes ripples of sound that produce an almost otherworldly feeling within their sound, punctured only by the quirky percussion and standard rhythmic clapping that is heard in almost every song of theirs. As creators, the members of Jungle attempt to remain somewhat mysterious and as cultivated as possible.
On the whole, the tracks of this release are overwhelmingly consistent, with the most unique tune being “Casio,” which is also the only track that features female backing vocals. These similarities make the album come off as slightly boring, as I have trouble distinguishing between most of the songs, and because so many of them employ constant repetition. However, Jungle gets away with this because they’re a disco band, and they can produce solid beats; the songs fit a theme. In the end, the collection never became a struggle to listen to, and at worst, it’s great music for dancing.
For me, the highlights of the album tended to include wailing, foreign-sounding strings, topped by chill washes of synth- such as what can be heard on “Beat 54” and “Pray.” I also enjoyed “Cherry,” which featured playful keyboard parts and creative electronic touches. The band hits a more somber tone towards the end, with tracks such as “Home.” “Pray” was probably my favorite part of the whole album–it’s a pretty dramatic, yet serene close, and it seems as if they put a lot of their creativity and energy into this finale.
To conclude, I’d give “For Ever”a 5/10. While I’m not crazy about any of these songs, none of them are terrible–they know how to write solid tunes, and the album seems to fulfill their specific purpose. However, writing about these specific songs has proven difficult when I have incredibly similar things to say about each one; none of them are particularly engaging, but they still sound nice and are fun to listen to. For somebody who liked this album, I’d recommend checking out MGMT or any classic funk act.