Review: Jagwar Ma - 'Every Now & Then'
Australian electronic / experimental / alt-rock band Jaguar Ma’s second studio album, ‘Every Now & Then’ is home to a busy mix of vibrations.
Wading through genres, the tracklisting unfailingly pushes the envelope without becoming jarring or ostentatious.
While the first half of the record is cutting and bold, the second half is comparatively lo-fi and makes use of mellow synth pads and open, glowing soundscapes.
Equalled only by unrushed, off-the-wall pop highlight ’Loose Ends’, ‘Ordinary’ is the album’s most exciting, attention-grabbing instrumental - it even squeezes in hip-hop and dancehall elements.
The song’s ramped-up low-end bestows it with a powerful, heavyweight quality, which counters the record’s lighter, loftier efforts.
Single ‘O B 1’ is an intense listen, the song practically spurs itself on. It feels hungrier and prouder than most of the LP.
Centred around an infectious Nineties house/madchester vibration, its hook is chanty, accessible and immediate.
The track ‘Batter Up’ pales in comparison though. Despite the fact both efforts emanate an eager, defiant energy and share similarly mighty refrains - ‘Batter Up’ can feel empty and loose.
The cut is lovingly drenched in the group’s unique point of view - but that's the only reason the revisit the track.
‘Give Me A Reason’ is a stronger celebration of the baggy, madchester sub-genres of rock music - its production stands out.
Basking in an all-inclusive ‘let’s all come together’ vibration, the seven-minute cut feels retro, plus Jaguar Ma nimbly inject a sun-drenched, carefree, beach vibe into proceedings.
Admittedly, the tune would comfortably impact at four-minutes long - but hey, seven minutes? Why not?
The explicit experimentalism at work on ‘High Rotations’ is totally peculiar - and fascinating.
Kicking things off with ominous, monk-type, choral singing, the band go on to explore a range of arresting harmonies. There’s so much activity going on within the song's instrumental, it demands more listens.
Throughout its duration, ear-candy of all kinds intercept the tune’s vocals, and because the general execution is so on point, things don’t feel chaotic.
Steered by wide-arced, outstretched and persuasive melodies, ‘Slipping’ is more traditional in terms of its structure.
Featuring lyrics that ponder the fleeting nature of time, the band’s lead singer Gabriel Winterfield’s vocals feel yearning and expansive - as they do right across ‘Every Now & Then’.
’Slipping’ is also able to soothe and calm the senses, and yet its mid-tempo dance/electro beats are rousing enough to evoke a shuffle or two. Jaguar Ma work that balance successfully on several songs towards the back end of the tracklisting.
Like the album’s intro track ‘Falling’, ‘Don’t Make It Right’ plays out like a musical interlude. It’s a layered, droning piece of electronic music, with ambient touches.
It’s difficult to pinpoint it’s basic concept. It’s likely that many listeners will be baffled, at least initially, by it’s indistinct, heavily-processed vocals, otherworldly synths and mystifying textures.
The tune certainly sits outside the box - however again, an inexplicably calming allure is present.
The album’s finale, ‘Colours Of Paradise’ undergoes multiple mutations throughout its duration.
The track’s lyrics are romantic and devoted - yet sometimes its agitated beat will step forward. Other moments incorporate vocal breakdowns and instrumental only sections into the mix.
‘Colours Of Paradise’ is one of those tracks that has the potential to transport a listener. The cut actually sounds like it’s on a journey of its own, and even though it never truly leaves the dance floor, there’s real warmth to it. What a concoction.