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WPGM Recommends: Habitats – Jungles (EP Review)

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Habitats soulful take on indie remains as one of the freshest sounds coming out of the British Isles right now. Their sophomore EP Jungles, plays host to the rhythmically enchanting bounce fans have come to expect.

They have grown and matured as a band since their first EP, released just one year back. Jungles is cleaner and crisper, defining not just their groove but their status too. Vocalist and guitarist Joe Payne has called the EP the “most fine-tuned version of what the band has always been”.

Starting from humble bedroom recordings in the suburbs of Hampshire, Habitats have evolved and reached new heights. They now have a whole different world of artillery at their disposal. Jungles was recorded under the guidance of producer Oliver Chasten (Moby, Jay Z), stateside in Huston City, New York. The record is compiled of previous songs from live shows as well as fresh new ones. Intensive, fourteen hour, jet-lagged studio sessions pushed Habitats to create the fresher and more complex sound in the Jungles EP.

Comparisons to Foals are due however not definitive, Habitats play indie with their own agenda. Jungles may be set for release at the end of winter but it’s distinctively a record designed for smoking in a park with a sunburn and a half melted Calypso. Opener “Boogie Waltzer” sets the prevailing indie-disco tempo off the bat. A bass line suitable for a 70’s dance floor plays as a backbone under Payne’s corse vocals and twanging licks of clean guitar.

Jungles continues with the track “Should Know Better”. The song builds to a gorgeous mid-point guitar bridge which leads into a progressively joyous cry of “I don’t think that I would change anything about you”. The EP continues as the most uplifting record to come out of 2016 so far. “Float Together” adds some funk into the mix whilst remaining unforgivingly happy. Perhaps the most dance oriented song on the record, “Float Together” cuts with sharp high-hats over its theme of unison.

Jungles title track closes the EP as a furious, almost math-rock style, primal conclusion. Its mellow introduction is perhaps misleading. It evolves and grows. Like chemicals in the blood stream, the track dilates and expands its instrumentation, until every element is at full force. Payne sings “animals, we’re animals” over choppy guitars and crashing cymbals, playing homage to the EP’s title.

In a WPGM interview with Habitats, Michael Lawford (guitars and vocals), explained what the experience of recording in America was like: “We were recording from literally day one, there was no getting over jet-lag. The guy we worked with was just super intense, so knowledgeable about s**t”. Lawford went on: “We don’t really know much in terms of music theory or production, so he was on key with that side of it. At the beginning we just basically said ‘look man, we don’t have a f***ing clue, we’re just gonna play you some stuff and see what we can do’”.

In Jungles, Habitats have done what they do best, create joyous summer tunes with a soulful groove. They have remained distinctively indie whilst reinforcing their unique sound. What’s next for the band is uncertain, however, what’s clear is Habitats are not to forget. Friendly guys, catchy songs and loving messages. Jungles has demonstrated that simple beginnings recording in a bedroom can lead far beyond expectations. Jungles is a record of much needed optimism, delicately crafted.

Habitats’ Jungles EP is is out now via Decibel Collective and is available to purchase on iTunes here, with the band playing live in Leeds, London and St. Albans in early March, get your tickets here.

Words by Oscar Nicholas

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