Jagwar Ma: Howling Is A Victim Of Its Own Hype

The intense hype surrounding Jagwar Ma has seen them hailed as the inheritors of Madchester, the close companions of psychedelia and the pupil of sixties pop. One might expect their debut album ‘Howlin’ to be a bit of a mish-mash that gets lost along the way, but pleasingly the Australian duo manage to knit it all together neatly.
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The intense hype surrounding Jagwar Ma has seen them hailed as the inheritors of Madchester, the close companions of psychedelia and the pupil of sixties pop. One might expect their debut album ‘Howlin’ to be a bit of a mish-mash that gets lost along the way, but pleasingly the Australian duo manage to knit it all together neatly.

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The album is a consistent dance across pop music and although there are elements taken from all, this definitely isn’t one to analyse on a track by track basis. There are no stand out hits or misses and everything seems to sit comfortably together.

Too comfortably in fact. The songs are likable, but there is nothing amazingly new about the sound and you probably won’t feel like you’re discovering much you didn't get from the first single ‘The Throw.’ When I accidentally had one song stuck on repeat I didn’t notice for 14 minutes. The fault lies here with the supposed ‘hailers’ and not the band itself; the tracks are solid, but the album comes as a surprise just because of all the credit around it. Screams of hype have created an expectation of something beyond just a really enjoyable album, and in in that you will be disappointed. The tracks sound relatively similar to the sort of stuff Animal Collective or Tame Impala have been making for a while, with just that extra element of pop which allows for success in the mainstream. Second single ‘Man I Need’ is great, but it’s almost notable how safely indistinct it is from the rest of the Radio 1 playlist it now sits on. Track 'Four' is probably the furthest from the regular, a formidable slightly ravey number that is executed incredibly well, but when I say furthest from the regular, that is just because that stuff isn't played on the radio and neither will this be.

That these different elements have not been brought together to create an earth shatteringly unique genre shouldn't do anything to ruin it. The songs are the ideal sound of summer, with 'Come Save Me' and 'Let Her Go' complete with hooks that The Beach Boys would have been proud of, and overall the whole thing sounds like that festival dance people do in the sun after taking something illegal. It is no surprise that radios are picking up on these pleasant chorus driven songs and we should all be prepared to have them thrown down our ears for the remaining tepid-to-warm months of the year. That this notion doesn't fill me with dread is a testament to the album, but once the record is put in perspective, any drooling that journalists have been doing for the last few months should probably be wiped up and suitably apologised for.