When Jagwar Ma stormed onto the scene with the infectious Howlin three years ago, it was hailed as a triumph. It’s safe to say that for album number two, things have mellowed slightly – even down to the muggy grey clouds of the cover artwork.
The Australian psychedelic scene has been working its way into the heart of today’s indie consciousness, primarily thanks to Tame Impala’s explosion, and this psych/indie/dance trio have been the forerunners of those pulling in the electronic elements for a while now. It’s a record that’s going to tick boxes for fans of the first album – the cascading, syncopated synths are rife and there are enough shout back choruses to keep the groovers happy. ‘OB1’ is a definite highlight with its hazy vocals and a drop that’s just begging to be played live. ‘High Rotations’ is another: the most intense track by some degree with its deliciously disconcerting dark spiky synths.
While there are fantastic moments, at times it feels as if they’re trying to be too many things at once and not quite packing the punch. For every euphoric beat there’s a bit that sounds like a poor imitation of Primal Scream mixed with the worst of the latest Swim Deep record, or a chorus that you know is going to feel whiny after a few listens (see ‘Loose Ends’ as a case in point).
Live, it will translate better; the build of stabbing synths are more than enough to get a room moving and it still has a kind of pop energy to it with enough daziness to give a show some atmosphere. It also doesn’t make bad background music; it’s pacy and engaging enough to keep your energy up, but not the kind of record that’s going to warrant intense listening scrutiny. But that’s okay, it’s not what it was aiming to do – it’ll be great to get down to, but probably not your standout moment of the night.