Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Jagwar Ma – Howlin
03 June 2013, 10:52 Written by Laurence Day

We revelled in the dusky haze of ‘The Throw’ and all its wooze-addled Madchester glory, and we threw our hands into the air for ‘Man I Need’, a tie-dyed psych-pop floorfiller. The Australian pairing of Jono Ma (Lost Valentinos/Foals) and Gabriel Winterfield (Ghostwood) has been causing a ’60s-laced electronic pop ruckus. It’s a distinct style that’s been maimed by psychedelia, pop and shoegaze; each one has left an indelible mark on their music. They are purveyors of rich textures and luscious, wriggly earworms. And, now we can get properly excited for the summer with the arrival of Jagwar Ma‘s debut long-player, Howlin. After tantalising us for months with a steady trickle of singles, we’re due something meaty to sink our ear-teeth into.

‘What Love’ welcomes you into the album. It’s a throbbing dance effort with soft womps of bass and 808 clicks, both married wonderfully to create a solid rhythm that stands above the sonic swamp of melody. Compared to other tracks we’ve heard from them, and considering its choppy, metronomic nature, ‘What Love’ sounds almost as if it’s a remix of itself. ‘Four’ is equally dancefloor-ready. The proto-house synths and screwed vocal samples hint at raves and neon lit cesspits. The beat is again focal, and it’s a far cry from the Beach Boys-infused guitar music or hazy synthpop we were expecting from the duo, but nonetheless, it’s just as psychedelic, and just as hypnotic.

It seems that Jagwar Ma are keen on a similar end goal for most of their tracks. They are obsessed with crafting music to dance to. Sometimes they venture into the jangly past, sometimes they look to the glitchy future and sometimes the dredge up acid house of the ’80s, but regardless of the journey, the results are always the same. This is dance music: it’s meant for parties, for clubs and for losing yourself in.

Aside from the obvious drum’n’bass relationship that’s designed to make you shake your jiggly bits, they utilise a fractal aspect where each spindle of noise is so coated in effects it doubles back on itself for eternity. They thread lyrics between synths and guitars and other lyrics, much like The Naked & Famous do on tracks like ‘Sun’. They create an entrancing atmosphere on Howlin with an abundance of mesmerising tricks and narcotic motifs.

Though there’s a heap of unexpected surprises, there are some things we saw coming. ‘That Loneliness’ is similar to early single ‘Come Save Me’ – it retains an opiate atmosphere, but feels more like basic guitar-pop than the brain-melting sounds found on the rest of the album. It’s gleefully optimistic in tone, with funk riffs and sun-kissed bass, but the lyrics insinuate a far different meaning: “A lonely heart that’s beating twice as loud/ I’m guessing you don’t really remember so what’s the use.”

Jagwar Ma have many tour dates lined up over the summer, including stints at a number of festivals. This sort of summer-drenched music will go down a treat – when they’re not sculpting rave-inspired house music, they’re reeling of pop charmers – and those who catch their sets will witness something special for sure. Howlin is the kind of record designed for the live setting, as it’s just impossible to have the kind of party you’d need to fully appreciate it alone in your bedroom (unless you have a really big bedroom). It’s designed for the outdoors, for huge crowds and for losing your mind to. There are few artists that have perfected the kind of engrossing and engaging dance delights that Jono and Gabriel are demonstrating here.

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