Habitats – Jungles EP (2016)

habitats

Track 1: ‘Boogie Waltzer’

The funky, bouncy, rubber drum intro rolls into my ears, leading into a fantastic beat with accompanying bass, which forms the basis of this live-sounding rhythm section. Unlike the title suggests, this is definitely not a waltz due to its 4/4 time signature, but then again it is only a title; however it definitely has its fair share of boogie and makes you want to dance like you are somewhere exotic having imbibed a shed full of cocktails! In fact, the sound conjures the feeling of a tribe you might encounter walking through an imaginary jungle; perhaps that is the intention of the band as this EP is titled Jungles. Its rhythms are provided by guitars, which deliver a great, funky vibe and complement the drums and bass perfectly. The guitar is loaded with lashings of reverb and is reminiscent of the kind of sound you here in 90’s acid jazz; yet, it sounds contemporary enough with the infectious chorus you might associate with the likes of Blur but without the cynicism or irony. This is strictly a good-time record.

The singer has, to me, a very original sounding voice, but then again I don’t profess to know every singer in the history of music – perhaps his voice sounds familiar to you? The chorus poses the question: “don’t you wanna feel like someone else tonight?”, reflecting the theme of escapism in this record.

The only problem I have with this thoroughly enjoyable track is its short length. For a record that really wants to make you dance, it really falls short at 2:48 minutes. Not that I am a particularly good songwriter, but if I had written the song I would have either added another verse or two and maybe introduced a guitar solo to the arrangement. I suppose the beauty of it, if you are not pissed up and dancing to the song, is that it is short enough to leave the listener wanting more and hitting the play button again.

Track 2: ‘Should Know Better’

This track is easier-going on the ears in terms of its melody and rhythm, in that it has a sunnier sound like it might have been recorded on a desert island. The drumming is as dynamic as on the opener, yet in this case provides the tune with a kind of reggae feel – but then what do I know? Sound is always labelled and it really isn’t important as long as its good right? The bass mirrors the inventing drumming and is melodic in its own right. The drums are nicely in tune with its rhythmic partner. The singing is laid back and smacks of melody, it’s nice to hear such dynamic vocals singing in such a range, it reminds me of The Shins in that respect.

The guitar plays a repetitive riff in the verses and is very atmospheric as the notes ring out brightly, save for an overdriven break in the middle of the song, which nicely divides the track and as the song progresses it provides a great jingle-jangle. The lyrics elude to the imperfections of the songs main character – I suspect his love interest, but the singer concludes that he wouldn’t change anything about him/her. This track would perhaps have been the most likely to be released as a single if it were not already on this EP.

Track 3: ‘Float Together’

The drums provide a simpler beat on this track than on the rest of this EP, allowing the bass to be busier. The guitars kick in with a bluesy, funky riff drenched in reverb with some nice muting, which transcends to some rhythm chops on the beat. The song’s middle section slows and the drums stop only to accent the song with some symbol crashes while the guitar takes control of the rhythm only for the drums to kick in with a steady bass drum and dynamic bass. Enter scratchy guitars ending with a snare hit and leading back into the chorus.

The lyrics in the verses seem to imply that the song’s lyricist is lost, but the chorus is positive and encourages memories of belonging with friends. The line, “let’s all just float together”, is a little ambiguous but would probably make more sense if you were to experience it in an altered state. The only disappointing thing about this track is that it ends quite abruptly and is not keeping with the positive nature of the song.

Track 4: ‘Jungles’

The guitar opens the track with rhythmical chops for the first few bars, which is soon accompanied by more tribal drumming. I just love the sound of the drums on the whole of the EP. The drummer, to me, is very inventive. The song builds and the bass is sturdy as ever through the verses holding everything together nicely; yet, when the song progresses it becomes more lively and cadenced.

This song really lets its hair down compared to the rest of the EP and is quite epic which, due to its length, is more likely to encourage a bit of swaying when played live. I can imagine ‘Jungles’ being played at a festival and really extending the song into a bit of a jam, like Moloko did with ‘Bring it Back’ at Glastonbury 2000 which lasted around half an hour!

In summing up, this EP is a refreshing departure from the kind of sounds we are hearing today. I think it’s great that there are still bands out there who sound dramatically different from the zeitgeist.

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