Never Been Better
A lesson from the Jungle book: to invent the future, sometimes you have to delve deep into the past.
Jungle attracted a wave of media attention last year when the videos to two of their hypnotic tracks, one featuring two slick London street rollerskaters and one a gymnastically gyrating six-year-old female breakdancer, went viral. The interest levels intensified when Jungle attempted to remain anonymous, only eventually to confess that they are two childhood friends and producers from Shepherd's Bush who go by the nicknames of J and T.
The attention will now switch to their eagerly awaited debut album, and deservedly so. Jungle – the record – is some sort of hazy, nebulous and yet forensically turned masterpiece, a slice of euphoric, heartfelt soul music delivered by driven, falsetto vocals over a beautifully luscious, deep-down groove.
J and T clearly take their inspiration from the 1970s classic soul tropes dreamed up by Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, yet they are no period-piece nostalgists. This is futurist soul in the purest sense of both of the words: a track like The Heat, a shimmer of infinite desire set to a frabjous yet subtle George Clinton groove, could equally feasibly have been recorded in 1975 or 2025.
The standout track is Busy Earnin', their breakthrough song last year, whose ecstatic volleys of brass, treated vocals and raw, insatiable euphoria stand comparison to Pharrell's Happy: this is pop-soul music in excelsis. Jungle are studio alchemists with ardent, beating hearts: Drops quotes Otis Redding's I've Been Loving You Too Long yet sounds as abstracted, narcotic and yearning as the most blissed-out 21st century electro-soul.
Ultimately, the old cliché holds true: J and T want to melt into the shadows so the music can speak for itself, and these grooves holler loud, proud and resonantly. Tremendous.