The Jungle Giants
Things have been smooth sailing for indie-kids The Jungle Giants. Since the conception of their career all but four years ago, they have propelled forward with a string of successful EPs, a cracking debut and a solid live reputation. After the shiny goodness of 2013’s Learn to Exist, they’re back with a determination to prove themselves beyond the conquered terrain of guitar pop.
From the very start of Speakerzoid, they are letting us know things have changed. This ain’t no familiar territory anymore. This is dangerous territory. This is cowbell territory. Opening track ‘Every Kind of Way’ pulses with crunchy bass, whilst Sam Hales – silken toned, fresh-faced Haley – drawls about sexual things in a voice nearly unrecognisable. Where are my pearls? I need to clutch them.
As the album progresses, this heavier approach doesn’t sway and the evolution of The Jungle Giants swiftly descends upon us. Bass and drums have been bolstered to produce a thumping new side to rhythm. Whilst the beats are a prominent aspect to Speakerzoid’s overall composition, the frantic energy has been tamed to a new leisurely pace that is accentuated by the album’s attitude. Guitars are no longer crisp, but instead are tinged with screeches and reverb. Welcome cracks appear in the mould of their tried-and-successful format of verse-chorus-verse. The grit doesn’t completely cover the compositional habits of their older material, with Cesira’s talent for melodic riffs seeping through. ‘What Do You Think’, sans the distant tone of Hales, would not have been out of place on their last record. ‘Together We Can Work Together’ is the most sonically sentimental on the record, its combination of tinny tones and sonic swirls nodding to psychedelic influences such as Tame Impala’s first record.
What slickness has been removed from production has been pushed into persona. Whilst Learn to Exist hung in a suspension of post-adolescent angst, the references to sex have moved from implicit to quite explicit, as ‘Lemon Myrtle’ (and its bass line) is all too quick to reveal. Always having a dab hand for writing about goings-ons behind closed doors, The Jungle Giants have shifted their focus from crooning about heartbreak to growling about fucking. Whilst Hales executes it effortlessly, it begins to feel forced and the tone is thankfully broken with the short but sweet ‘Mexico’. The weirdest is saved for last with the eerie calls of ‘Tambourine’.
On their second album, The Jungle Giants are keen to tell us they have grown up and doing so they show us how far they have reached out. They have transformed their groove and found their funk whilst never abandoning their capacity to write a catchy tune. Prepare to be seduced by Speakerzoid.
Stand out track: ‘Lemon Myrtle’