Jungle's For Ever: What You Need To Know
When Jungle first appeared on the scene in 2013, they did so shrouded in mystery. The video for their debut single 'Platoon' featured a six-year old breakdancer and quickly became a viral hit, as did the videos for the handful of other singles lifted from their eponymous 2014 debut album, but those making the music itself remained conspicuously absent in front of the camera.
Led by a duo known then only as 'J' and 'T', the London-based collective rapidly became one of the year's most exciting prospects with their silky take on 1970s funk, building a live reputation to match as the group wowed audiences across the UK and then Europe before taking their their impressive live show around the rest of the world. The duo behind the music were eventually revealed to be Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, and while the pair enjoyed plenty of viral success with their colourful videos and dancefloor-ready tunes, the buzz around them never quite translated into mainstream hits.
This week however Jungle return with the follow-up to their superbly crafted debut. It's called For Ever, it's available in stores now, and here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
After two years of solid touring in support of their debut LP, Lloyd-Watson and McFarland set about writing material for their second album. Seeking a change of scenery, the pair decamped to Los Angeles to begin writing and recording material from their second album, but eventually found themselves at odds with their surroundings and returned to London to seek a little help in completing their new record.
Who's producing it?
The aforementioned help came in the form of producer Inflo, who worked with the duo to co-produce several tracks on their sophomore LP. His previous credits include production work for the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Belle and Sebastian and The Kooks.
Any special guests?
Nope. There are plenty of other musicians involved in the creation of the new album besides Lloyd-Watson and McFarland, but there are no guest performers or featured artists to be found here.
What does it sound like?
Of the singles Jungle have released so far, 'Happy Man' is perhaps the ones that feels most like it could've been included on their debut, featuring the danceable, slightly nonchalant grooves and the double-tracked falsetto vocals that quickly became their trademark. Other tracks on For Ever take that formula and stretch it to varying degrees, across the tribal rhythms of opener 'Smile', the upbeat summer vibes of 'Heavy, California' and the disco-infused 'Beat 54'.
Elsewhere though there are welcome changes in both pace and direction; 'Cherry' slows things down a little and injects an R&B vibe into proceedings, while there's a mournful edge to slow jam 'House in L.A.', which feels like a fatal collision between the California dream and the gritty realities of Los Angeles living.
Where the new album really begins to branch out though is on some of the deeper cuts, like the trip-hop beats of 'Consurmyne', the off-kilter shuffle of 'Casio' and the dreamy, swooning grooves of the album's epic closer 'Pray'.
Does it deliver?
While there was plenty to be excited about when Jungle first burst onto the scene, and enough great tunes to make their eponymous debut LP a very impressive one, Jungle did feel at times like a bit of a one-trick pony, it's slick production sometimes masking a lack of depth or any real emotional resonance.
For Ever takes steps to address those shortcomings and the results are very promising. Inflo has clearly been a positive influence on the album's creation and not only do Jungle take more risks on their sophomore LP, there's a level of emotional weight here that was often lacking on their debut, and For Ever is all the better for it.