Published on September 4th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant1
Jagwar Ma – Howlin
‘Howlin’ is the debut album from Jagwar Ma, a pair of Australian time-travelers that went back to the good parts of the 90s and came back with an album that mines the Madchester scene, big beat, and hazy, psychedelic shoegaze. Such an album could have been a real shark sandwich, but in the collective hands of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield, the songs come off as a well-made collection of dream pop tunes with dancy undertones. Oh, and Noel Gallagher said that the future of the galaxy depends on them. Yup, the whole galaxy.
Okay, are we done with the same old/same old opening description volley? Myself and the rest of the Internet go the lazy writer route, checking off 90s bands like The Stone Roses or Happy Mondays, but simply comparing Jagwar Ma to all those other acts and styles truly undercuts their talent. The duo brings new ideas to the jam, but even better, they move like ninjas from their own ideas to their influences. Jagwar Ma toss around playful summer hooks, but also some cuts mired in melancholy. The first few tracks are a bit more in your face, primed for blasting at a party, but the record settles into a more delicate chill out tent beast near the end.
Sure, a lot of what they do draws on beloved influences, but as Lisa Simpson said, “you have to listen to the notes [they’re] NOT playing.” They are brilliant editors and producers — they don’t cram in influences just for the sake of checking them off, and they don’t flush the system with their own ideas just to prove they have them. ‘Howlin’ is top-notch production with skillful cohesion and a delicate balance that proves that Jagwar Ma stand on their own. I also have a feeling that their sound may be something totally different by the time they put out their next album.
I don’t know if ‘Howlin’ will save the galaxy, but this is what modern pop music should sound like.