Debut Album "Jungle": Brilliant or Bananas?

A party at the Mods could benefit from a song like “Time,” an electronic funk piece that builds upon itself in expert fashion. It gets you up and dancing, like the music video’s two aged men that transformed from limp to limber as the rhythm constructs.

But it would be wrong and ultimately disappointing to assume that the rest of Jungle’s debut album belongs in that setting. In fact, there are only about three or four songs on the album that could really satisfy those dance-minded scholars found cramped together inside your off-campus home.

Much of Jungle, self-titled in pursuit of self-definition, is chill and introspective instead. One of my best experiences with the album was while driving at night on the empty road, allowing the music to emanate from my speakers as the streetlights passed quickly behind me.

Almost every song is well crafted and smooth, a combination of looking to past music trends while also utilizing present tools to the duo's  advantage. Many of the tracks are catchy and deserve multiple listens to truly appreciate. One of the more debatable parts of the album, however, is the vocal department.

Admittedly, the vocals are usually enjoyable. Yet at the same time, the unchanged type of singing throughout the album can get tiresome, even if vocal effects help vary them slightly. Some may not find issue with this repetitive nature, but if executed properly (as with Disclosure’s Settle), features can give an album its own much-needed variety while allowing the project to remain cohesive.

Then comes a more complicated dilemma that does not have an easy description. At times listeners can find themselves trying, and often failing, to join in with the withdrawn and reserved vocals that some would argue helps define Jungle as the group they are.

There seems to be this struggle between Jungle singing for the listeners and singing to themselves, between inviting onlookers to sing along, and urging them to remain spectators. It may be a personal opinion, but if you find yourself awkwardly unable to fully embrace Jungle’s lyrics, throwing in a phrase here and there that you half sing and half hum to retain some of your dignity, you are not alone.

Mixed feelings about the vocals aside, Jungle manages to almost always sound good. The album transitions from a beach in “The Heat” into much darker and moody areas of beats and sounds, only to return to a lake with “Lemonade Lake,” bringing a sense of unity and a return to nature, appropriately.

Small additions remind listeners of the album’s title, with the beginning of “Busy Earnin’” sounding vaguely like monkeys and the end of “Smoking Pixels” being easily interpreted as sporadic animal noises. Also, some of the drum beats sound like they could be found at an island resort located within or near a rainforest.

Jungle’s nonintrusive presence makes for easy listening that can accompany various moments and add pleasant tunes to many chill sessions to come. It demonstrates that this new mysterious duo can deliver good music and that they may grow to become something truly remarkable. Their roots are firmly planted; next comes the battle between withering away or flourishing.

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