Jagwar Ma, Howlin

Andrew Harrison

By Andrew Harrison

on 06.11.13 in Reviews

Who’s up for the baggy revival? Vince Clarke’s game-changing remix of Happy Mondays’ “WFL” remains a pan-generational floorfiller almost 25 years after its release, and now here’s a band whose every other track summons up the exact same luscious, lolloping, mind-emptying euphoria. On this debut album, multi-instrumentalists Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield from Sydney, Australia, drink deep from the indie-dance well — or maybe they just came up with it independently on the other side of the world, as often happens with a good idea.

A Down Under debut of psychedelic jubilation and sheer physicality

Either way Howlin is full of psychedelic jubilation and sheer physicality, throwing the flavors of ’60s girl groups or ’70s AOR or hardcore dub into a churning mix of lo-fi electronics, stomp-along beats and blissed-out chants. Opener “What Love” sets out the store with a mid-tempo stroboscopic pulse and a layered, very Summer of Love lyric — “Waiting for tomorrow brings another day and another sun.” It’s less of a song and more of a round. Single “The Throw” splashes wonkily-tuned desert guitar and a ’60s psych vocal across a slowed-down house beat, as if The Byrds had turned up at The Haçienda.

Though grooves predominate and Jagwar Ma’s live shows indicate that this is a band with two Bezes, Winterfield and Ma know their way around a melody too. Both “Come Save Me” (Brian Wilson goes minimal) and “That Loneliness” (Phil Spector plus Stax) have a surprising whistle factor.

Best of all, Howlin is resolutely optimistic and pleasure-bent, in contrast to the laddish conformity of baggy’s degenerate later phase. This album is a sun-kissed feel-good spectacular that’s just begging to be played loud in a field near you at 5 a.m.