Euphoric falsettos and sonic productions pave the way for Jungle’s resurgence. Infallible trust in one another marks an era of creative freedom for Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, as the duo celebrates the launch of their independent label. The passion and energy infused into this soulful disco-inspired record is palpable from start to finish.
Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, also known as “J” and “T”, have been enamoured by music since childhood. The duo and former neighbors unified at the age of ten and began releasing their own music in 2013. Self-titled Jungle (2014) and For Ever (2018) headlined their current discography, while sprinkles of singles peppered the mix. Now, the energy continues with their recent addition Loving In Stereo—a 45-minute proclamation of elation and affirmation.
Newfound liberty and independence are welcomed by both Lloyd-Watson and McFarland. Loving In Stereo is enveloped in rawness, openness, and enthusiasm, which Llyod-Watson believes to be the core of music. McFarland emphasizes the dynamic faith in their collective mission, stating “With this record, we’ve learned to trust our instincts and go with our gut” in a recent press release. The duo shares similar sentiments, reveling in the notion of positively impacting fans via music.
Loving In Stereo benefits from easily digestible choruses and hooks and intense tempos. Plenty of instruments coexist on each track, including sinister synthlines, groovy guitar riffs, and the occasional doses of piano and saxophone. The transitions between each of the fourteen tracks will have melophiles cheering for joy, especially those who listen through albums in their entirety.
The most notable themes derived from Loving In Stereo include hope, new beginnings, and fighting against the odds. Jungle’s themes will align with many, as plenty of people are looking to rediscover themselves after the confusion that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.
The introductory and simultaneously shortest track “Dry Your Tears” invokes a somber and introspective mood. It’s natural to believe that the duo is asking fans to push their worries away for the duration of the record’s playtime. Seemingly large organ pipes linger at the forefront, reinforcing the struggles many have faced.
“Keep Moving” released in March of 2021 and was one of the first singles for this project. The aforementioned falsettos kick in to enforce the idea of powering through struggle. This song will be an instant hit for any fans of the EA Sports FIFA series, as this is textbook menu music.
Jungle is no stranger to menu music, as “Busy Earnin” is one example of their previous experience on the platform. Although “Keep Moving” has a strong chance of commerciality, that simply isn’t Jungle’s goal: they want to produce overtly groovy tracks to please the fans—and, quite frankly, succeeded on this attempt.
“All Of The Time” gives me retro diner vibes, probably influenced by the scratchy radio vocals at the beginning of the track. The momentum of this track is unparalleled and piggybacks right where “Keep Moving” left off. A brief synth solo breaks the mold in the latter half of the track before swinging back to the chorus, which is catchy enough but lacks any lyrical depth. For a quick and infectious jingle like this song — that’s not the worst thing.
“Romeo” marks Jungle’s first collaborative effort on an album and was another teaser for Loving In Stereo. Bas’ vocals float effortlessly over a beat that is quite reminiscent of Social Houses’ “Magic In the Hamptons.” Bas eggs the fans on by mentioning, “steel resolve / look at you / you like a cube of sugar in a pool of water / bet you will dissolve.” The message is clear: don’t just talk the talk — walk the walk. If Jungle can continue to pair powerhouses with their beats, they will find significant amounts of success in the years to come.
The next few tracks embody particular scenes. “Lifting You” plops you in the middle of a crystal blue sea, drifting effortlessly without worry or alarm. Perhaps you have your favorite cocktail in tow and your sunglasses resting atop the bridge of your nose. Maybe the thalassophobes (ocean fearing) will opt for a cabana on the beach? Regardless, this track is tasty and tropical.
“Bonnie Hill” brings the listener to the quintessential twilight on a sunny-and-seventy five evening. Slower beats encourage this track to nestle its way into those chill vibe playlists. “Fire” paints the picture of firefighters calming a raging flame. This is Jungle’s subtle hint that they’re rescuing fans from emotional disaster. “Talk About It” takes the baton from “Fire” as the message of that fast-paced tempo is “let’s get there together,” effortlessly perceived by the lyrics, “All I gotta do is start something new / start living in the sunshine everyday.”
“No Rules” sweeps the audience out of their seats and onto the dancefloor. The bass is the key in this track, as the lyrics are difficult to interpret. Sometimes, a song can be great without perceptible lyrics; this is one of those exceptions.
The holy grail of this album would reside in “Truth” which earns perfect tens all around. The instrumentation is flawless, the lyrics are hopeful and inspirational, and everything blends so so so effortlessly. This is easily the diamond of this project. Jungle decisively released this track as a single prior to release, and we covered the track on our New Music Sunday segment, mentioning that the track “begins with a unique yet all-too-familiar instrumental that fans can definitely expect to hear in commercial advertising. The lead vocalist cannot seem to hide his perversion regarding frequent mixed singles from a woman he admires.”
The admiration continues with the remaining four tracks on this album. “What D’You Know About Me” is a groovy electronic fiesta; “Just Fly Don’t Worry” errs on the introspective side; “Goodbye My Love” features upstart Priya Ragu (Jungle’s second feature on an album) whose vocals glide smoothly across a piano-synth beat; and “Can’t Stop The Stars” acts as a glimmering beacon of hope and is the essence of a showstopping performance. A few of these tracks needed a second listen, but each stole a different piece of my heart and attention. Most notably, “Can’t Stop The Stars” is a gorgeous final word to a project that will surely be in rotation for the foreseeable future.
I was quite nervous when beginning this review because I felt that the repetition of falsetto and instrumentation would take away from any analysis I could draw, but I was thankfully mistaken. Each song links together while possessing their own identity, giving both individual track-lovers and full albumists something to draw from. Jungle returned with a vengeance and the product is breathtaking and stunning.
Loving In Stereo is available on all streaming platforms now.
Trying to catch Jungle live? Check out the duo’s upcoming tour dates here.