Jagwar Ma – Howlin
Aussie duo Jagwar Ma’s debut album is something to behold. It’s a trippy, toe-tapping mix that effortlessly fuses Madchester vibes with soothing Beach Boys style rhythms. An underpinning synth beat, which links the tracks together, bring in a modern influence and conjures visions of festival music at its very finest. Throughout its 11 tracks and near 45-minute running time, Howlin keeps up the pace, never stepping back and rarely dropping in quality.
What Love kicks off the album, with wispy vocals and a beat that longs for the sun soaked scenery of the band’s Sydney home. It is summer condensed into four glorious minutes. There is a slight Yeasayer influence, as the music takes centre stage, making the lyrics little more than an added extra.
Uncertainty easily matches the quality of its predecessor. This time a brain teasingly catchy chorus is sung over more electronic beats, with just a hint of classic 80s synth pop. The Throw is seven minutes of beautifully constructed early 90s psychedelic rock, which would not feel out of place in Primal Scream or the Happy Monday’s back catalogue. Come Save Me changes direction somewhat, leaving British influence for 60s California, again showing such diversity that many bands could only wish for. But hype clearly hasn’t affected the duo tipped by many to make a big impact this year. They even received acclaim from ex-Oasis man Noel Gallagher. No pressure then.
Dance comes to the forefront in Four and even with a six-minute running time, it never outstays its welcome by keeping the pace just right. Exercise begins with a Stone Roses worthy intro, yet delves into rich drumbeats and percussion with a trippy feeling of being at the front of a festival stage, dancing into the summer night. There are even added rainforest sound effects, though these thankfully are kept to a minimum. The track creates enough of an atmosphere without resorting to gimmicks.
Final track Backwards Berlin plays the album out in a relaxed manner with soothing guitar strokes and softly sung “oooohs”. It’s almost like the comedown after what has preceded it.
Howlin is the ultimate summer playlist, condensed into one truly unique and standout debut release. Crossing genres and even standout periods of musical history, it is stylish and effortlessly cool and cohesive in its production.
Howlin was released on 10th June 2013.
Watch the video for The Throw here: