Jagwar Ma – Howlin’ (Marathon Artists)

Jagwar Ma – Howlin’ (Marathon Artists)

For the last couple of months I’ve had Jagwar Ma’s insanely catchy Come Save Me single immovably stuck in my head, occasionally mashed up with Temples’ equally groovy soundalike Shelter Song. I had them pegged as one-hit wonders who would vacate my brain in due course, but bugger me, they’ve only gone & put out an entire album of similarly brilliant tunes.

Howlin’ is, in short, 50 minutes of summery, Balearic, indie-dance (yes, you heard me, indie-dance) brilliance, the work of two men who sound as if they rarely listen to anything other than the Nuggets box set and Creation’s cult 1991 dance compilation Keeping the Faith. It’s going to be massive and I’ll probably be sick and tired of it by 2014, but right now it is causing my ageing legs to experience the muscle memory of long-forgotten Bez dance moves, and my arms to shake imaginary maracas.

Kicking off with the loping, baggy grooves and trippy vocals of What Love and Uncertainty, both of which evoke long-forgotten early 90s dance acts such as Fluke or Hypnotone, Howlin’ really hits its stride with the epic The Throw, seven minutes of throbbing dancefloor genius right up there with Happy Mondays’ classic WFL. Four does exactly what it says on the tin, a taut, slow-building slab of four-to-the-floor acieed. Man I Need’s baggy grooves and eastern vibes are tailor-made for summer festival mayhem. And the bouncy rubber-band bass of Exercise, accompanied by a chant of “EXERCISE YOUR CHEMISTRY!” and a grin-inducingly cheesy piano & bongos break, is the dumbest piece of dancefloor fun since the heyday of Fatboy Slim.

Jagwar Ma’s fixation with the Beach Boys & 60s garage rock proves slightly less fertile, with That Loneliness and Let Her Go treading an almost invisibly fine line between Nuggets cool and Austin Powers swinging London cliché. But the aforementioned Come Save Me is as perfect a guitar pop single as you will hear all year, a practically immovable earworm.

What with the original line-ups of the Mondays and the Roses touring (and reputedly recording) again, Howlin’ could find itself at the vanguard of a 1989-90 revival. So grab your maracas, get your flares out of mothballs, grow that bowl cut and twist those melons. Man.


Stream album:

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.