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Record Reviews

Jagwar Ma

11 Track, LP (2013, Future Classic)
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Despite toeing the line between washed-out indie-guitar jangles and pulsing house tracks, Howlin is a surprising exercise in restraint. Surprising also because debut records are not usually like this – they should be overloaded, jostling with ideas that collide and crash at unfortunate times. Jagwar Ma seem to have happily skipped this stage of development, and Howlin unfolds as a highly sophisticated and mature release. Then again, it’s not like recording is new to Jono Ma or Gabriel Winterfield, who’ve been around the works with Lost Valentinos and Ghostwood, respectively.

This maturity definitely doesn’t equal minimalism though, and there is certainly no lack of sonic ideas here. They’re just deployed sparingly, for maximum impact. Check the gradual piling of layers on opener ‘What Love’, with the bass pushing the vocals and various electronic swirls into a thick pulse. Or the way the heavily iced vocals of Jono Ma hang over the muted beat of ‘Uncertainty’ before diving down into a sleek groove.

The forward momentum powers through the seven-minute epic ‘The Throw’, which turns some Beatles-style tumbling vocals into a slow-burning psychedelic jam. Between the stylised modern jams, the ’60s influence drips through in the bright pop bounce of ‘The Loneliness’ and the elastic psych chorus of ‘Come Save Me’. The latter’s lilting pop melody is pure radio sugar, bound for seriously high rotation.

There’s a palpable sense of ease on Howlin. Jagwar Ma are comfortable in letting the sounds stretch out, to settle and rest and become gradually hypnotic before introducing their next idea. Sometimes the sudden change jars: the switch up from the muted house of ‘Four’ to the Madchester revival of ‘Let Her Go’ is a bizarre step at first listen. That is, until the latter turns into a looped vocal chant. The best example of their penchant for the hypnotic comes in the quiet closer ‘Backwards Berlin’, with blended piano and acoustic guitar thrumming over soft imprints of electronica.

Come Save Me by Jagwar Ma

They’ve been firmly lodged within the hype machine prior to the album’s release, with the ever-reliable Noel Gallagher telling NME that no less than the future of the galaxy depended on its success. Lucky, then, that Howlin is thoroughly impressive. The galaxy will remain intact just a little longer.

by Jules LeFevre

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Your Comments

whatwhat  said about 2 years ago:

Great melodies.

Eple  said about 2 years ago:

love this. and love the cover.....

carwashhair  said about 2 years ago:

Not sure about this line, though

with the ever-reliable Noel Gallagher told NME that no less than the future of the galaxy depended on its success


Captain Oblivious  said about 2 years ago:

He's making Star Wars references. In the source article he's talking about wanting to see Temples play on the Death Star.

Captain Oblivious  said about 2 years ago:

''When I was listening to it I was thinking about what the record's going to be, and the future of the galaxy depends on that record and the Jagwar Ma record. If those two records are right, then the imperial – what are they called, the imperial forces… those c*nts – will be defeated.''

blacklight  said about 2 years ago:

I can't be objective about the album. Haven't heard much of it anyway. But Jono and Gabby are good eggs and they thoroughly deserve their current kaboom.

carwashhair  said about 2 years ago:

He's making Star Wars references. In the source article he's talking about wanting to see Temples play on the Death Star

Thanks for the context. I was referring to the garbled phrasing - ''WITH the ever-reliable Noel Gallager TOLD nme?'' Surely 'told' should read 'telling the'?

Mess+Noise  said about 2 years ago:

garbled phrasing fixed

pfinger18  said about 2 years ago:

Winners are grinners:

whatwhat  said about 1 year ago:

so apparently they were the band of glastonbury?

mule  said about 1 year ago:

here's to hoping they don't get chewed up and spat out most other nme hype band. they have the chops so i can see em being round for a while. kudos to them!

Goodbyetonsils  said about 1 year ago:

Probably the most immediate album I’ve heard for a long time. Sticks in yer head from the get go. Good work fellas.

pfinger18  said about 1 year ago:

I have had The Throw stuck in my head for what feels like forever.

whatwhat  said about 1 year ago:

Pretty excited about seeing them on August 1.

Methinks this corner show will be the last time they play a room of that size.

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  • 1.   What Love
  • 2.   Uncertainty
  • 3.   The Throw
  • 4.   That Loneliness
  • 5.   Come Save Me
  • 6.   Four
  • 7.   Let Her Go
  • 8.   Man I Need
  • 9.   Exercise
  • 10.   Did You Have To
  • 11.   Backwards Berlin
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