Published Sep 12, 2018After a handful of hyped singles, a mysterious British art-funk collective by the unsearchable name of Jungle released their proper debut LP in 2014. A Mercury Prize nomination and a Noel Gallagher approving nod later, the group's followup was keenly anticipated, although their first effort felt so self-contained that no one would've been surprised if, following the footsteps of their XL Recordings' labelmate Jai Paul, their first release — or alleged release in Paul's case — was to be their last.
Yet, For Ever is all a fan could have hoped for. Without replicating their established aesthetic note for note, or running in the other direction entirely with Congratulations-levels of reconfiguration, Jungle expand their sonic palette subtly with the help of producer Inflo, who previously collaborated with Michael Kiwanuka.
Their claustrophobic reverbs and minimal grooves are not gone (see the inventive "Cherry"), but this release captures Josh "J" Lloyd-Watson and Tom "T" McFarland exploring new territories such as yacht disco ("Beat 54 (All Good Now)," "Casio") and Morriconean string-laden epics ("House in LA"). They even go so far as to forego their enduring falsetto on a few occasions.
While their self-titled played like a vibrant homage to the UK's underground scene, For Ever is Jungle's Hollywood album, both in scope and substance. With it, the group affirm their place among the indie auteurs of the zeitgeist, and — perhaps more importantly — skilfully avoid the sophomore slump. (XL)