Jungle is massive. Jungle is unstoppable. Jungle For Ever. The posh soul duo have swapped the townhouses of Shepherd’s Bush for the penthouses of Los Angeles in a bid to be more … something. To be honest, this - their second album - just sounds like the first one. It’s another helping of blue-eyed funk grooves topped with fey falsettos. If you liked their eponymous debut then you’ll like For Ever. And a lot of you liked that first record, didn’t you.
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Whether Jungle needed to get more polished or not is a moot point. They were pretty polished as they were and here they up the ante into a massive massive sound. One thing is clear, if you don't like falsetto vocals you won't be liking this. The duo sing together throughout aiming Al Green high with their vocal harmonies....like two Marvin Gaye circa 'Got to Give It Up' trying to out squeak each other
The opening couple of tracks are too grandiose for my tastes but when they relax into 'Beat 54' I'm much more impressed. This is a lovely summer day track, the sort the band are presumably thinking of when they describe their music as "midtempo 1970s-style funk" and it's a lovely thing indeed. Harmonies less squeaky, beats less big. Let's remember that 70s soul was always known for beautiful production and laid back style. It seems that the band have realised that this is where their music works best. 'Cherry' is also a lovely mid tempo track with lovely vocal hooks. The groups aspirational politics don't actually bother me. In times of austerity and bleak world events sometimes it's nice just to think of ...well...nice things. Lead track 'Happy Man' exemplifies this approach with the chorus of "Buy yourself a dream, how's it looking? Buy yourself a car and a house to live in Get yourself a girl, someone different Buy yourself a dream and it won't mean nothing". A twist at the end there you see? The hint that money don't buy you everything but it's a nice contrast to album after album about Trump.
They just stay on the right side of Jamiroquai throughout. A lot of this has a similar feel to Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' in that it's soulful pop aiming at mainstream dance floors. There's a pureness to Jungle though that presumably comes from their love of old school soul. They keep things real enough production wise and generally there's a satisfying lack of gimmicks. My cooler workmates may mock me for liking this but I finished this album happier than I started it which is a rarity. The vocal can grate a bit on repeated listening and parts can sound a bit samey but I assume this is going to be listened to in iphone friendly chunks rather than as an entire piece.
Released at a strange time as we're just hitting the end of the summer. Presumably XL feel that the best bits of this could be the feelgood anthems of next summer.
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