Music

British Collective Jungle Makes Heartbreak Sound Enchanting

Emily Rosca | The PhoenixJungle performed Aug. 3 at Lollapalooza's American Eagle Stage.

After coming off a hiatus since debuting its first album, London-based band Jungle returns to the music scene with its second album “For Ever.” The seven-piece British soul collective, with Josh “J” Lloyd Watson and Tom “T” McFarland as the frontmen, brings funk and groove back in an updated way. 

After its inception in 2013, Jungle put out its debut eponymous album in 2014, which was well-received by critics including New Musical Express (NME), who gave the album a four-out-of-five star rating.

In 2014, “Jungle” was nominated for the Mercury Prize, which awards a British or Irish group for best album released in the U.K. The album’s most popular song, “Busy Earnin,’” has since received more than 54 million plays on Spotify.

Four years after charming listeners with “Jungle,” Jungle returns with “For Ever” for another round of magical melodies and memorable lyrics.

With its island-inspired lazy, jazzy rhythms, “For Ever” reminisces of happier days. During the album’s production, McFarland and Watson both nursed broken hearts after breaking up with longtime girlfriends, Pitchfork reported. While pain and sadness lie at the heart of the album, heartbreak is enveloped with enchanting melodies. 

Jungle is well-versed in music composition, with synthesizers and xylophone beats complementing McFarland and Watson’s now-signature falsetto vocals. Unlike Jungle’s debut eponymous album, “For Ever” highlights more of the ensemble’s female voices from Rudi Salmon and Nat Zangi. Salmon and Zangi’s angelic vocals perfectly align with Watson and McFarland’s leading vocals, rounding out the band’s sound. 

The album’s contrast between good and bad, happy and sad is evident in almost every song. Backed with upbeat disco tunes and groovy synths, “Heavy, California” sings of California’s fast-paced lifestyle, while “Happy Man” tells the story of a troubled man in a never-ending search of happiness. 

Jungle packed its bags and moved from West London to Los Angeles, where the group began recording its second album, Pitchfork reported. 

McFarland originally moved to Los Angeles for a relationship but, after the relationship ended and recording sessions didn’t pan out, Jungle relocated back to London, according to Pitchfork. “For Ever” is stained with struggles and heartbreak from this time. The struggle and pain are evidenced in “House in LA,” where Jungle sings, “Truly you care if I’m getting on that plane/So ask me to stay/Oh God, in the hope that you can heal my pain.”

The funky soul group gained traction among listeners and became well-known for its fiery live performances. Since realizing “Jungle,” Jungle performed at music festivals throughout the world, from Texas’ South by Southwest to Montreal’s Osheaga Festival and England’s Glastonbury Festival.

Jungle performed Aug. 3 at Lollapalooza’s American Eagle stage, solidifying its reputation as a group of star performers. The ensemble’s energy radiated into every audience member, urging them to let go of all inhibitions and dance the night away. 

During its set, Jungle performed well-known songs from “Jungle,” including “Busy Earnin’” and “Time.” Aside from its well-known songs, the group teased “For Ever” with yet-to-be-released songs, including “Smile” and “Casio.”

In promotion of “For Ever,” Jungle released several singles from the album during the summer. “Happy Man” and “House in LA” were jointly released May 5 and 8, while “Cherry” and “Heavy, California” dropped July 26 and 27. As a final tease, “Beat 54 (All Good Now)” was released three days prior to “For Ever.”

For fans who attended Jungle’s Lollapalooza set and kept up with the singles’ releases throughout the summer, “For Ever” didn’t leave much room for surprises. Of the 13 songs on the album, seven were either performed at Lollapalooza or released prior to the album.

Despite the several early-released singles, “For Ever” puts a modern spin on 1970s funk with its strong composition, lazy rhythms and stunning falsettos. The band will tour through Europe and the U.S., with New York City as its first stop Sept. 22.

Jungle will perform in Chicago March 13 at Metro. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at www.junglejunglejungle.com.

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Arts & Entertainment Editor

Emily Rosca hails from Chicago and is majoring in print journalism and minoring in French. She constantly searches for the truth — which is better: hamburgers or pizza. Find out what she decides on Instagram @thelokalnomads.

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