Release Date: Sep 14, 2018
Record label: XL
Jungle chase the American Dream on their impressive and expansive second album Jungle have always felt like an LA band. On their debut album, the London duo crafted an intoxicating brand of throwback pop-funk best suited for cruising through the San Fernando Valley, or roller-blading down by Venice Beach. They dreamed far bigger than the London bedroom in which they recorded their self-titled debut album.
Since Jungle 's self-titled debut dropped four years ago their sound has become instantly recognisable. It makes you want to slip into a pair of roller skates and hit the rink to bust out a few moves - even if you haven't got any. It makes you want to throw on an Adidas tracksuit and be the b-boy or b-girl you never knew you wanted to be - even if you know that pursuit will very likely end in either crunching pain or mortifying embarrassment, or both.
UK modern soul collective Jungle make suspiciously uncontroversial music. On their self-titled debut, their brand of moody mid-tempo funk was meticulously-crafted to soundtrack festival coverage and sports montages. The group appeared so calculated it was worth considering if they had anything to offer beyond their stylish image. The branding became especially suspicious when the group's founding members were revealed to be two privately-educated white men.
There comes a point in everyone's life when the draw of LA becomes too real. For most, it appeals to our more shallow selves. It's got everything that a person in their mid-twenties with a good haircut could want. It's got the sun, it's got the sea and it's got an endless stream of VIP parties in which to aid your aura of self importance.
Propelled into the limelight off the back of some mysterious press shots and a couple of genre-fusing, falsetto bangers, Jungle’s resulting 2014 debut was up there with the year’s most clamorously received. Now, over four years later and in a fickle musical climate that doesn’t favour time-taking, ‘For Ever’ lands with a much more difficult job to do. Jungle have largely played it safe here; the feelgood alt-funk of ‘Heavy, California’ could sit seamlessly alongside anything from their debut, while the ominous nocturnal strut of single ‘Happy Man’ is just ‘Busy Earnin” Mk II.
The British soul collective Jungle wear their second-hand influences with pride. They come about disco by way of Disclosure, Marvin Gaye by way of Pharrell, and Sly and the Family Stone by way of Portugal. The Man. With less industry savvy they might just be a wedding band that does a mean "Get Lucky," but thanks to their viral videos and a supportive British music press, they're one of the UK's buzziest acts, and a magnet for royalties and licensing fees.
For artists releasing their debut album, everything in their life has led up to that point. All the lessons, experiences, relationships and influences come together to create a document that summarises all that has gone before. That's why it's no surprise that some of the best debut albums have landed in our laps with a sound and aesthetic that's so fully fleshed-out, honed and realised.