Stirring and thrilling and beating with warmth, Loving In Stereo will elevate you to a place where the dancefloor flies free from physicality and all affection exists in hi-fi. We spoke about the new album to Tom McFarland – one half of celebrated English electronic duo Jungle.
There’s a Mitch Hedberg joke that goes: “It’s hard to dance if you just lost your wallet. ‘Woah, where’s my wallet? But, hey, this song is funky!’” If we can loosely compare the average human’s current mental state to a kind of psychological losing of their wallet, then it follows that doing something as pure as dancing can seem absurd (at the least; at the worst, you might beat yourself up about it).
That’s why the opening track of Jungle’s third album is so apt. It’s a balm, with violins surging and soaring, to ease us into this healing communal space and say, ‘I know you’re hurting, but you’re allowed to get out of your head.’
“I think we knew that the album needed something like that,” says Tom McFarland of the English producer duo. “The lyrics are amazing – ‘Dry your tears, don’t cry’ – and it really does introduce the listener to the vibe of the record; it’s probably our most positive album to date. The first album was like ‘Don’t look at us, we’re very self-conscious’. The second record was like ‘Look at us, but don’t’, and this one is like ‘Look at each other, and have a ripper time,’” he chuckles.
That opener – the 1:20-long Dry Your Tears (a beautifully cinematic soundscape in which violins surge and soar) – is followed by a tracklist that makes Loving In Stereo one of 2021’s inarguable jewels; it mixes old-school funk, poetically-flipped breakbeats and an authenticity of heart that’s so stirring you might find yourself forgetting about that wallet even before you’ve watched a single one of the band’s famously gobsmacking videos.
Though there could never be a formula to the propulsive potions McFarland and bandmate Josh Lloyd cook up, there is a shining path forward: “You don’t want to overwork an idea, ‘cos it just f-cking sucks when you do,” McFarland explains. “You can spend hours and hours, days and days, trying to make something better that was already really good, and you end up just making it heaps worse. Literally, what Josh and I realised quite quickly – and it’s something that we don’t necessarily tell ourselves often enough – is that the first thing you play is the best thing for that idea.”
The maxim extends to the guest musicians on the record, whose fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to experimentation slips seamlessly into the Jungle ethos. “The flute solo and the saxophone solo at the end of Bonnie Hill were complete off-the-cuff moments,” McFarland smiles. “We were literally wrapping a session for that evening, and the guy that helped us arrange all the brass and the woodwind for the record, was just like, ‘Do you mind if I saxophone solo over the end of this?’ and Josh and I were like, ‘Aah, do we want a saxophone solo?’” he laughs.
“As soon as you ask yourself if you want a saxophone solo you say ‘no’, but then when you listen to what he did, which was like the first thing that came out of his instrument, you were like, ‘That is 100% what is right for this record’.
“That’s the thing about Jungle; you can’t plan it, because ultimately all those spontaneous moments and mistakes are what makes it so unique and beautiful to us. Mistakes and happy accidents really, really allow us to explore our uniqueness. That’s what we love about it the most.”
Loving In Stereo by Jungle is out August 13 via AWAL.
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