Behold, there’s another rowdy girl band who are eager to take over the scene. Neon Jungle is Jess, Amira, Shereen and Asami; four British girls who pack a punch with their outgoing attitudes and non-stop energy. While their 2013 single Trouble debuted at no. 12 on the UK Singles Chart, it was the success of their second single Braveheart that launched their names into the global market. With a strong fanbase and a Twitter count of almost 60K, Neon Jungle have released their debut album Welcome to the Jungle and it’s packed with sexy beats, addictive basses, and powerful melodies.
Braveheart is the album’s opener, and it does its job in firing up the audience. It’s a rowdy head-banger, full of catchy hooks and an infectious bass that captures that club atmosphere. Welcome to the Jungle follows the same format as Braveheart; again, it’s an EDM track inspired by the likes of Krewella and David Guetta. Both tracks showcase the rap talents of Jess and Amira, and its catchy hooks and energetic tempos begin to steer the album towards the electro-dance genre. This is backed up with the vibe of Trouble, a gritty, all-attitude number with a rapid tempo to boot. It’s got a pulsating beat that could pound in time to the club lights, but the melody is downright disappointing; an entire song comprised of one repeated note is monotonous and quite frankly, forgettable.
The direction of the album begins to change though, with Louder. Gone is the club vibe that the girls have built for their listeners; in a welcome change, the track features sweeping strings and elevating melodies. It’s a powerhouse ballad that allows the girls to show off their vocal talents and boy, can they sing. They perform with earnest emotion and belt a chorus that will actually make you sit up and reassess the band in a deeper, more serious light. Their potential shines again in the milder, though lyrically impressive Can’t Stop the Love, where the girls address social issues including violence and racism. Considering that their fanbase leans dominantly towards youth, the track is a good way to inspire positivity and acceptance within the next generation of adults.
After that, unfortunately, the album gets stuck in a dead end. It’s as though Neon Jungle haven’t quite found their sound yet, so they attempt to try everything at once. The Rihanna-inspired Bad Man is a haphazard combination of street hip hop and electro, and its hook “walk like a bad man” makes you wonder if this is still the same band that just penned Can’t Stop the Love. Their cover of BANKS’ Waiting Game is a mess; it’s horribly over-sung and nowhere near captures the sultriness of the original. It’s not uncommon for bands to cover another artist on their album, but what Neon Jungle lacks here is originality; its like listening to the song being sung at a karaoke bar. The album draws to a disappointing close with Fool Me, another slow ballad that showcases some wonderful harmonies, but doesn’t quite live up to the epic that was Louder.
It’s a solid debut from Neon Jungle, with a lot of individual tracks that are standouts alone. But as a whole it’s just too scattered; while the girls have proved that they have voices, what is their forté, exactly? Is it EDM? R&B? Or maybe just contemporary pop? They’ve made confusing jumps from one genre to another, making them seem unclear with their music direction, rather than versatile. If only they reconsidered – or even rearranged – the track listing, it would have made for a stronger album.