It hardly seems coincidental that in the jungle, you’ll find four big cats; the lion, tiger, jaguar & leopard. Sit them down in a room and you might create the ferocious quartet Neon Jungle. Welcome to The Jungle.
They say a lot can happen in a year, and for Asami, Jess, Shereen and Amira, such a statement will never be more apt. Début album, ‘Welcome to The Jungle’ opens with the group’s successful second single; the monstrous Rave-ruckus, ‘Braveheart’. The track smacks of in-your-face attitude and immoveable confidence (But then again, what else would you expect from a group of girls “on that club ground battle scars”?), but it’s what comes after Asami’s count off (“Ichi, ni, san, kaesu!”) that truly shines; a colossal and euphoric instrumental that invites any listener to lose themselves in the hammering bass line.
Third single, title track and band namesake ‘Welcome to The Jungle’ follows storm that ‘Braveheart’ started. While it would have served better as the album’s opening track, due to it’s less aggressive nature in comparison to it’s predecessor, on it’s own, it’s actually another brilliant example of Neon Jungle’s “No holds barred” attitude, this time accompanied by a Dancehall backdrop and a dub-heavy beat paved with urban grit. Like ‘Braveheart’, the track features members Jess & Amira rapping together, this time trading lyrical matter referring to salad for more mature, if at times, “NSFW” content.
Début single, ‘Trouble’ picks up next, and is a welcome reminder of how the group started as the Electro-hurricane amidst the wave of R&B-revival that comes from most contemporary girl groups. Written by 2011’s cool-kid of pop, CocknBullKid, ‘Trouble’ is a short ’n’ sweet, unruly banger, boasting a pulsating beat and throbbing bass. Lyrically, there isn’t a lot going on, but the key lyric (“I don’t look for Trouble, but Trouble looks for me / And it’s been waiting around corners since I was 17”) will soon bore it’s way into your brain and have the track on loop.
‘Louder’ is where the band strips themselves of their infectious Electropop-hooks and allows them to demonstrate their vocal abilities on this booming ballad about drowning out emotions. Although Amira & Shereen boast power as they take the lead on the track’s thunderous chorus, it’s Asami who shines here as she welcomes us into the song with her uniquely smoky, yet gentle vocals.
‘Can’t Stop the Love’ is filled to the brim with summery Urban-pop twinkles and sparkling vocals to match on the verses before jumping into a defiant, hand-clapping hook. The groups’ primary songwriter, Australian Pop-botherer Cassie Davis, delivers yet again with her infectious hooks and while producer Snob Scrilla offers decent production, his guest rap causes the track to fall short.
There’s a distinct air of Rated R/Talk That Talk-era Rihanna on the sample-heavy ‘Bad Man’. The track, unfortunately, barely scrapes past “filler” status as it fails to build upon it’s strutting beat and grisly bassline. What manages to save it is the girls’ faultless confidence and snarling attitudes.
‘Sleepless in London’ sees the girls sing about insomnia caused by not telling their respective loved ones how they truly feel. Scrilla’s production offers up a slice of glistening Synthpop that heavily recalls that of The Saturdays in their early career.
‘Waiting Game’ is a cover of a song by sultry Soultronica songstress, BANKS. Unfortunately for the girls, the emotionally delicate vocals and ice-cold production of the original were integral to the song’s overall framework, both of which have been lost in this cover.
‘So Alive’ swoops in to save the day. Jarrad Rogers (Ella Eyre, Rebecca Ferguson, Aiden Grimshaw) takes the production helm to create an utterly infectious and heavenly piece of Synthpop. And who better to write the lyrics for this wonderful canvas than she who released one of the best Pop albums of 2013? Providing the lyrics is the ever-prolific Charli XCX. The lyrics breathe creativity from every pore and the music is profusely euphoric and effervescent.
Like ‘Louder’, standard album closer ‘Fool Me’ is quite the little thunder storm. Shereen shines as she takes control on the emotionally charged chorus and demonstrates the power in her vocals as she belts over the orchestral strings and tribal-esque percussion.
The deluxe version of the album features two extra original songs, both co-written by CocknBullKid. The first is ‘Future X Girl’; a guitar-driven Pop Rap stomper that recalls Ke$ha’s ‘Die Young’. The second is an emotive MNEK-written, mid-tempo ballad titled ‘London Rain’ that demonstrates a beautifully vulnerable intensity that feels like a more suiting closer than ‘Fool Me’.
While ‘Welcome to The Jungle’ is filled with many good songs, the track order causes the album to sound scattered. With a reworked tracklist, the album would sound far more cohesive.
‘Welcome to The Jungle’ will be released July 28, 2014
Watch the video for current single ‘Louder’: