If the new tropicalia movement began with Beck’s underappreciated 1998 track of the same name, it finally reached critical mass in 2015. Of late, everyone from Justin Bieber to Coldplay’s Chris Martin has dipped their toes in this style’s cool equatorial lagoon. The UK four-piece Habitats actually use the words tropical and groove as part of their genre description. It’s safe to say they did not stumble upon this sound unknowingly.
Jungles follows two singles and an EP. It’s an energetic four song romp through the forest undergrowth. Opener Boogie Waltzer marries the delirious pop of Foster the People to a sweaty dance floor workout. The reggaeton-lite skip of Should Know Better evokes ensembles like LA’s Fool’s Gold and Freshly Ground out of South Africa. Habitats favors the same squeaky clean guitar work and afrobeat aesthetic as those bands, both of which take their cues from Fela Kuti’s innovations in 1970s Nigeria.
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Worth mentioning at this point is the utter plausibility of Habitats becoming hugely successful-easy as they are on both eyes and ears. Cynics might lament the homogenization of world music as it is increasingly gentrified by fresh-faced indie bands like Habitats. They said the same when Paul Simon recaptured his muse in Africa and Arcade Fire found its groove on pilgrimages to Haiti and Jamaica. But those haters will miss out on treats like the Stone Roses style guitar freakout on this EP’s title track. Welcome to the jungle.