A tired cliché it may be to describe anything originating Down Under as ‘sun-kissed’ and ‘laid back’, like our only exposure to Australian culture consists of lager advertisements and daytime soaps, but these expressions wouldn’t be anywhere near as over-used if it weren’t for the fact they ring so true. Because if ‘Howlin’, the debut long-player from dance-loving Aussies Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield, were a soap character, it’d probably be Brad from Neighbours circa 1992.
But other than being a product of its geography – or at least the myopic view of it from British ears – ‘Howlin’ is a remarkable album in its own right. Jagwar Ma have fused their professed love of 60s harmony, the hedonism of early 90s dancefloors and created an album which couldn’t possibly live in any other year but 2013.
And it’s all the more impressive because the euphoria here – see the bleepy ‘Four’, ‘The Throw’ and ‘Exercise’ – is reliant not on trite lyrics (there’s no “come on!” “party!” or elongated “yeaaahhh” in virtual sight), but the music itself.
Elsewhere, there’s the swirling, hypnotic ‘Come Save Me’, ‘That Loneliness’ has drums taken straight from The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Keep On Running’ and ‘Let Her Go’ has more than an echo of The Rolling Stones. All the while mixing loops, samples and the kind of glitches that wouldn’t sound out of place accompanying a Thom Yorke vocal – and in fact, closer ‘Backwards Berlin’ has Winterfield dishing out a bit of that, too.
That might sound like a bit of a mish-mash, but ‘Howlin’ works impeccably as a whole. Equally uplifting and calming, it’s the dancefloor via the beach. Because all Aussies like the beach, right?
More like this
Though the set is short of sing-alongs, the dancing just about makes up for it.
Jagwar Ma locked themselves away in the deepest, darkest French countryside to follow-up on dancefloor-smashing debut ‘Howlin’’. They found inspiration - but no phone signal.
Jagwar Ma thrive when they’ve more room to explore, which proves true on their second record.
All the biggest and best tracks of the week, rounded up and reviewed.