Imagine waking up in the midst of the Australian outback. Parched and disorientated, you stumble aimlessly with the sun on your back. Mirages begin to glimmer in your periphery. Lagoons and oases are but a stone's throw away. You can feel the cooling waters but will never experience that which you seek. This is the contextual reflection of ‘Every Now And Then’.
Coming in from the inside track of the ubiquitous influx of Australian pop-rock bands in the early 2010s, Jagwar Ma’s debut record ‘Howlin’ was a strong contender for successfully fusing chill house with spritely pop-rock. Relying on their grooves over songwriting substance, Jagwar Ma return with a second offering that retreads the mistakes of the first with grandeur.
Tracks like ‘Say What You Feel’ boast the natural whimsy and shrugadelica that embodies current surf-rock, but Gabriel Winterfield’s voice, very much a linchpin of the band’s sound, doesn’t carry the weight that justifies the rich textures and tonal augmentations throughout each track, most of the time feeling like a 38-minute misstep.
‘Loose Ends’ and ‘Ordinary’ have their own distinct flavours but don’t do nearly enough with their nine-minute collective run-time. The tracks start and finish on an even keel despite taking unrefined influence from both the worlds of tropical house and Primal Scream’s trippier sessions.
After a few spins, single ‘Give Me A Reason’ fulfills the entire M.O of the band in under ten minutes. Echoing fellow Aussies and electronic troupe Cut Copy, this track is a juicy raisin in a pack of dry cashews. It doesn’t just dip its toes in the possibilities of exploring the psych dimensions that Jagwar Ma allude to, it dives headfirst in.
It’s continually frustrating to hear the same spiralling melodies and vocal projections that would benefit with some denser background vocals, especially since the likes of the hallucinogenic and whirring ‘Batter Up’ acting as the crunchy and palpable scratch to this derivative itch.
The tracks rarely justify their extensive lengths; circling the drain by occasionally fading dynamics and syringing in an off-kilter sample - Avalanches this is not.
‘Every Now And Then’ takes the form of a transcendental equivalent of the longest summer. Wavelengths stretch leaving you feeling worked over, fatigued and ready for a taste of something new.
Words: Will Butler
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