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. Second album ‘For Ever’ sees them embrace the West Coast’s glitz and glamour, as well as The City Of Angels’ crushing pitfalls.
After their debut album’s release in 2014, Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland had the world at their feet. ‘Jungle’ remains one of the few British debuts this decade that was both a roaring commercial success (certified Gold in the UK) and liked by the cool kids. Soon after, their intoxicating live shows made them festival staples across the globe. A well-deserved retreat into the Hollywood Hills was in order to celebrate, unwind and get cracking on new music – but the mission struck a few snags. Both musicians split up with partners in the process, and after some fruitless recording sessions, the band returned to London to refocus the sprawling catalogue of songs they’d written.
Playing on home turf appears to have propelled this album to completion, but that Cali spirit remains in varying ways. Spritely lead single ‘Heavy, California’ encapsulates the bohemian spirit of chasing the dream (“They say Heaven’s waiting for ya / So I’m heading for California”), while ‘House In LA’ sees it all come crashing down (“Riding down Sunset Boulevard trying to find out who you are…”).
While their debut album favoured a shadowy and mystical aesthetic, ‘For Ever’ makes for a far more personal affair – for instance, ‘Beat 54 (All Good Now)’, combining the heady soulfulness of legendary NYC nightclub Studio 54 and Daft Punk’s ‘Homework’, is a breakup song with a devastating groove. There are, though, moments where the band seem too nestled in their comfort zone. ‘Happy Man’, for one, feels like ‘Busy Earnin’ pt.2, but with all the shine smeared, while the album’s momentum derails slightly in its final third, before the sprawling ‘Pray’ ups the game.
The LA dream may not have come to fruition this time, but ‘For Ever’ proves Jungle are well on their way.