Jungle’s new album ‘Loving In Stereo’ is set to become the soundtrack for a summer quite unlike any other.  The British producer duo have spent the last year locked in a studio and have emerged, delivering a huge disco record for the post-social distancing age, with a life-affirming, dancefloor-igniting, sun-kissed celebration of all the things that make music irresistibly joyful.  With huge sing-a-long hooks, enormous synths, and the pulse-raising rush of pushing the BPM through the ceiling, ‘Loving In Stereo’ is a record that dovetails with the release of UK’s lockdown, giving the listener one long hit of pure euphoria.

And who better to soundtrack a bright new dawn, than one of British music’s biggest success stories?  Less than a decade ago, lifelong friends Josh Lloyd and Tom McFarland were two kids with what felt like the impossible dream of one day seeing their name above the door of their local venue, Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

That was an ambition that they achieved when touring in support of their 2014 self-titled debut album. They never lost the wide-eyed wonder of seeing where the journey would take them, from selling-out London’s 10,000 capacity Alexandra Palace to filling the Hollywood Palladium some 9,000 kilometres from home. They’ve performed on five different continents, headlining as far afield as Sydney and Moscow, while also winning new fans at festivals such as Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Jungle’s international following has embraced their albums too. Their Mercury Prize-nominated, Gold-certified debut and 2018’s follow-up ‘For Ever’ both entered the UK Top 10. Those two records have since amassed 750,000 equivalent  album sales and close to a billion streams. In short: whether it’s at home in London or as far away as Mexico City or Santiago, Jungle are officially a very big deal indeed.

As ‘Loving In Stereo’ is an album that embodies what’s sure to be a heady summer of social liberation, it’s fitting that Jungle are experiencing something similar. They’re embracing the new-found freedom of launching their own label for the first time, a decision which has initiated their rebirth. They’ve ditched the external influences, put commercial considerations on the backburner and ignored second guessing what people expect from them. Instead, they’ve taken their music back to their roots, to a time when they could make whatever music they liked without overthinking it. And guess what? That’s the Jungle that fans adore too.

“With this record we’ve learned to trust our instincts and go with our gut,” says T.  “We want it to be more raw, open, fun, enjoyable and entertaining, because that’s what music is,” adds J.

Some things, however, are already perfect as they are. J and T are the beating heart of the wider Jungle experience in which music, aesthetics and choreography co-exist as one distinctive artistic vision. Sharing the ethos of Gorillaz or The Avalanches, the pair are Jungle’s producers, songwriters and musicians, but they’re also its directors, content creators and curators. They’re at the helm of a wider community of creatives. As J says, they can be old and new as long as “we have a great energy with them.”

If you chance upon ‘Busy Earnin’’ or ‘Casio’ on the radio, it’s impossible not to think of the striking, stylised choreography of their videos. As T states, it’s a 360 experience in which their music influences their visuals, which in turn lends fresh impetus to the music. “Dance is the most instinctive way for humans to react to music,” he evaluates. “I can watch our videos over and over again. You learn new things about your music because of the way another person is expressing themselves. That’s the most powerful thing for me about what we do visually.”

That approach will inform their already vibrant live show, which will create the feeling of stepping into a Jungle video shoot by amplifying the focus on their choreography and visual aesthetic. Their musicality – emphasising electrifying live instrumentation over sample and loops – empowers a collective feeling of togetherness, which is just at home on the sweaty sway of a dancefloor as it is providing the euphoria as the sun sets on summer festivals. And that can only be elevated by the exuberant energy of ‘Loving In Stereo’.

Jungle achieved that atmosphere by extending an open invitation for friends to join them at sessions at The Church. In contrast to the focused writing camps that have become an industry norm, if you turned up, you might well end up on the record. That’s how the timeless vocal hook on the nostalgic yet postmodern ‘All The Time’ was created. J describes it as feeling “like a garage tune, but played by musicians with knowledge of future rhythms.”

That carefree approach also resulted in Jungle’s first two feature collaborations. They struck up a friendship with rapper Bas when they shared a bill at the Greatest Day Ever festival, and several months later he joined those free-spirited sessions at The Church, where the charismatic, old school hip-hop track ‘Romeo’ emerged. Meanwhile, at the end of a session with rising star Priya Ragu, J suggested they race through one final idea. The result, ‘Goodbye My Love’, captures Priya’s voice in a new way: jazzy, loungey and tinged with psychedelia.

‘Loving In Stereo’ immediately sets out its stall with the lead single ‘Keep Moving’. At its core it’s disco, but it feels so free and effortless. It’s neither beholden to the genre’s past or striving to redefine it. Its lyrics reflect the changing circumstances the pair found themselves in while also being attenuated to these trying times. As T summarises, “Whatever you go through, as long as you can stay strong and fight it, there’s always something on the other side.

One of three songs written with their old friend Inflo (a Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello winner for his work with Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz), ‘Talk About It’ offers a lighter but similarly luminous vibe: ecstatic, spontaneous and with a propulsive dub-flavoured bassline. And at the other extreme, there’s ‘Truth’ which sounds a world apart from anything Jungle have released before: a driving Motorik rhythm with a punk-infused energy and uplifting harmonies.