Album in Review: Quiet Ferocity
Written by Samuel Murray
We look at the winner of the AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) award and give our verdict on why the album is an Australian gem that people in the UK should know about.
This is the video for ‘Feel The Way I Do’. This video suggests the feeling of restlessness when one is alone, then depicting similar entities using household items.
This video for ‘Used to be in Love’ appears to be referencing the push and pull of a toxic but none-the-less mutual relationship, the lyric “my hostage love” suggesting this pre-chorus.
Little did band members Andrew Dooris, Cesira Aitken, Keelan Bijker and Sam Hales know, that 2018 would be the year -alongside Psych-Rock group Methyl Ethel– to win the AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) award.
The album won with good reason, tracks with infectiously good loops and melodies that effortlessly intertwine guitar and electronic elements that in many ways resonate the in-between stages of The Strokes’ 2011 album ‘Angles’. Though both bands hold each to their own, their approach to producing is very similar: Tap Out from 2013 album Comedown Machine, and Time and Time Again from Quiet Ferocity both inhibiting verses involving clean, repetitive, intricate strumming that bounces between the multiple guitarists.
But this album cannot be defined by comparison, it has so many influences within the way it has been composed that we would be referencing all day long, this could be explained by Sam Hales taking to the producers chair, resulting in a very different sound from previous albums such as Speakerzoid. Moreover, I will tell you track by track, what makes this album a deserved award winner:
Record Artwork from 2015 Album 'Speakerzoid'
Image Copyright of Amplifire Records 2015
‘On Your Way Down’ sets the scene for the album, the track making good use of stereo in the one-two chorus, synthesized keyboard notes flitting between the left and right channel, paired with the vocals and easy-going twang of two guitars, pinging off one another in the way I previously mentioned. Lyrically, this song is easy-going and provides a good basis to understand how the rest of the album will begin to feel.
‘Feel The Way I Do’ is arguably the best-known song from the album, and is The Jungle Giants’ most played track on Spotify with over ten million plays. What makes this song successful is twofold: the fantastic lyric writing, which is relatable to anyone, but beautifully individual depending on your personal circumstances and experiences. Everyone at some point in their life feels outcast, and there is something wonderfully romantic in two people feeling that exact way at the exact same point in time. The other element that makes this song iconic is the electronic work throughout, a super catchy, earworm of a keyboard loop that edges it’s way back into the song at the very start, middle and end, and a use of synthesizer that you could compare to that of a very high pitched guitar solo, almost paired with an dance-anthem tempo you can picture yourself dancing in the ‘on-off’ of a strobe light.
The third track of the album ‘Bad Dream’ could almost be the sister of the previous track- a similar use of a riff at the start of the track, but this time it is in the form of a vocal “Ooh oh oh oh” rather than a keyboard riff. Harmonies are also used throughout this track paired with a layering that could probably be impersonated well by an acapella band. The song also features a keyboard solo that gave me vibes of some early work by band Metronomy.
‘Used to be in Love’ is undoubtedly my personal favourite of the album. Not only is it personal to me, it has a storytelling nature throughout that instantly grabbed my attention, and I knew it would work well as a song accompanied by video. It is the melancholic juxtaposition in the upbeat guitar work throughout that gives the song an interest like no other, until revealing at 2:37 (unless you had not been listening to the lyrics of the song) the true nature of how it feels to come out of love, in a tense keyboard hold with the echoed vocals of Sam Hales adding an eeriness that the rest of the song did not present. A song with many beautiful layers to be interpreted.
‘Quiet Ferocity’, ironically, is the weakest track on the album. The song feels as though it is rather aimless compared with the aforementioned tracks, in a way that The Strokes had a tendency to create one or two in an album that had this same feeling of emptiness. The basic guitar riff had potential to blossom into a song of pure beauty in the way that the riff in Feel The Way I Do does, but it remains stripped back in an easy-listening territory that in no way is ugly but does not hit the heights of the other songs. However, it could be said that a track of this magnitude was needed somewhere within the album to act as a bridge and to sum up the vision in mind when creating the album, the most successful part of the song being the last thirty seconds.
The next track, ‘Time and Time Again’ has an energy about it that brings the album back into exciting territory ‘once again’. Light, quick percussion and fast strumming from both guitar and bass all give this song a hotness that is sweetened by slightly off-pitch oddness that portrays the ‘indie’ within the band that is for all to see on their Instagram account.
‘Waiting For a Sign’ relies the most on electronic elements, but again does not leave the instruments behind in any way. The song has the strongest ties to electronica and funk that The Jungle Giants have ever had, and it something I would like to see more of- it feels in many ways how I would imagine Metronomy to be if there were five of Joseph Mount instead of one (read my review of Metronomy’s album, The English Riviera). If The Jungle Giants were to pick a song to further influence the direction of their music in future, I feel Waiting For a Sign certainly would have the best scope for them to develop and create even more intricate pairings of instrument and electronic.
The next track ‘Blinded’ is one that often gets overlooked, achieving just over 600,000 plays on Spotify compared with Used to be in Love’s nine-million plays. Though quite repetitive, the balance of acoustic and electronic in this song is perfect, and almost feels like a follow on of the narrative created by the hit tracks earlier in the album.
‘In The Garage’ is simply a showcase of The Jungle Giants’ energy and ability to write songs in a totally different manner without any vocals, certainly paying homage to the synthesized likes of Metronomy and even the more artistic works of Bloc Party. Though this song is not a traditionally beautiful composition, I feel that this would have a lot of impact to a live audience and equally work well when accompanying some sort of videography.
‘People Always Say’, the last but certainly not the least interesting track of the album. This track has beautifully weaved verses and an interesting use of bells in the chorus, mixed with keyboard notes- moving onto a crescendo alluding more to electronica, then bringing it back into indie territory, a feature I really enjoy with this song.
All in all, Quiet Ferocity certainly pricked up some Australian ears, and I do hope that The Jungle Giants move onto British soil in a more permanent manner. The photography for the album cover was taken by Timothy Lovett, a Brisbane based photographer. And as you can see the singles feature close-ups of the still life created for the album cover, which is a beautiful aesthetic to tie all releases together.