Unconscious Jungle – On Parade

Unconscious Jungle On Parade

If you want to know what the opening track to this LP sounds like then you just need to read the title; Baroque Swing In A Jazz Club Orbiting Saturn, wide-eyed trumpet, dainty and nimble harpsichord, a toe-tapping, finger-snapping drum beat and a caddish vocal , it’s an unashamed good time number, swoonsomely romantic and buoyant.

This Manchester five piece demonstrate even moreso on Lost Wanderer their deft ability with a thoughtful and invigorating arrangment, their considered, poppy folksy sound might find them unfairly lumped into the same category as Mumford & Sons, but hopefully that’ll just earn them some ears, as they have a playful and arch sensibility far beyond the tepid wuffling of M&S. The dreamy aside of this track recall the likes of Donovan and Aidan Smith at his more balladarian, with a snifter of Beirut‘s grand, creaky orchestrations here and there.

Ukelele driven tune Queen Bee opens with a succession of quirky lyrics over a waltzing rhythm and dream-pop backing vocals in the Brian Wilson-vein, it turns into a none-more-Zach Condon horn driven anthem before twinkly glockenspiel draws things to a close. It’s followed by the rather mawkish Coffee House Blues, with its sugary lyrics (‘I hope that some day you will fall in love with me’) and twee instrumentation it’s a tad too cheesey, a little more distinctively a ‘pop song’ in the traditional sense than the LP’s earlier, more inventive, twists.

Breathe is a more successful romantic refrain, the slightly huskier vocal working nicely against the twinkly plinky piano, shuffling percussion and nimble acoustic guitar. The passionate Nothing Matters But You builds guitars and trumpets in a woozy defiantly bashful anthem with more playful verses and a bouncy bassline.

Despite its Beirut-esque title Paris, 1925 (Ragtime in Wonderland) has a spacier feel, a simultaneously plodding and skittering piano, the song winding up sounding a little Mercury Rev. Final track Tired of Holding On has an alt-folk Bright Eyes feel to it that feels a little bit forced at times, with some of this record’s weaker (though no less enjoyable) moments it feels more like the band are trying to fit their music into a pre-existing template rather than letting the similarities, if any, emerge by accident or just collective influence.

When Unconscious Jungle wriggle out of the confines of a genre-type they are a wonderfully inventive and delightful band, but occasionally their songs feel a little too beholden to their homage and suffer by way of familiarity. But, even in these moments the band remain accomplished and their sound is always bright, breezy and entertaining.


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