Review: Jagwar Ma – Howlin
Published on June 22nd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Noel Gallagher talks utter crap at times but he’s spot on about Jagwar Ma: Howlin, the Australian duo’s debut album, is utterly, utterly superb.
Jagwar Ma have reciprocated the admiration but, while certainly bearing hallmarks of early ’90s music from in and around Manchester, they rarely if ever sound anything like Oasis. In the interests of freshness – and with all due respect to the Lords of the Pub Rock Manor – this can only be a good thing.
No, they sound much more like compatriots Tame Impala by way Liars’ WIXIW album of last year, all shot through with a strong dose of Screamadelicalicious acid house. That is to say it’s a fizzing, rattling club night deferring to a set of instantly winning melodies and harmonies.
For such an immediate record, Howlin sure gets underway in disorienting fashion: “What Love” is a sticky-rhythmed swirl of disembodied psychedelia that transports us into Jagwar Ma’s world as if we’d just popped some kind of magic pill to get there.
Goodness knows what they’re putting in the water Down Under but the procession of beaming, groove-hugging tunes that follows makes for one of the most instantly absorbing and strangely otherworldly listening experiences that Rocksucker’s enjoyed since Tame Impala’s first album (not that last year’s Lonerism wasn’t ace too, it’s just that we were expecting it to be).
“You take on everything in a peculiar manner / I’d be so reckless, but I’d just dribble and stammer” we are informed on “Uncertainty”, and this does a disservice to the lateral approach that Jagwar Ma take to the oft-botched task of fusing pop songwriting with lysergic electronica.
That they make it all sound so naturally entwined immediately places them ahead of many of their peers; that they make it sound so thrillingly fresh and somehow futuristic even in the face of its clear antecedents…well, it’s a bloody neat trick, and one that’s extrapolated quite beautifully late on when “Did You Have To” takes us on a blissful trip to the beach.
Closing track “Backwards Berlin” winds down proceedings also quite, er, ‘beachily’ but with an unsettled undercurrent suggestive of much more to come from Jagwar Ma. As with Tame Impala after Innerspeaker, we now expect great things from them in (moon)light of Howlin.
Howlin is out now on Marathon Artists.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!