Jono Ma, Gabriel Winterfield, and Jack Freeman forged their electronic dance trio in 2011, and two years later, their debut Howlin’ is upon us.
Thank Christ too, because it is an absolute banger of a record with every song cutting a staggering punch.
“Uncertainty,” a track already getting considerable airplay on Triple J, bears the irresistible inverted lyrical pyramid of “How can you, how can you, look so gloomy/when you’re gloomy, howlin’, look so good to me,” which persists throughout the track with impeccable harmonies.
With darker beats, screeching melodies and minimal lyrics, “Four” delves into heavier realms for the trio. It’s tracks such as these that serve as a deeply satisfying contrast to the brighter, clap along, pop-tracks that have already received considerable praise and airtime, such as “Come Save Me,” which was released late last year.
“Four” also has flashes of Chemical Brothers, and in connecting Jagwar Ma with these electronic pioneers there is no suggestion of plagiarism, rather an acknowledgment of their ability to create tantalizing hooks and overwhelming beat.
In a bid to show their lyrical capacity comes “Man I Need”, a song that elicits optimism in the face of failure. The chorus, claiming, that “all you say to me/ is all you want to see/ you’re not the man I need/ that’s what you said to me/ you’re not the man I need”, is infused with passion and conviction, despite its simplicity.
Howlin’ has done everything right: the music, emotion, intensity and pace are all executed with precision, and yet the beats and energy remain grossly consuming.