Neon Jungle's debut album was released earlier this year in the UK and will bless American ears soon. As the first recipients of the Future Smash Hit section of the blog, Asami, Jess, Shereen, and Amira had a lot to live up to and thankfully they deliver. Welcome To The Jungle is the most fun a girlband has had in a while and the album benefits from 3 things: the girls' attitudes, excellent music taste, and dream collaborators.
Ever since they came onto the scene last year with "Trouble" (still amazing), Neon Jungle set themselves apart from the crowd by constantly supplying electronic bonkers pop that you just don't get from music these days. Most of the album follows that logic, incorporating pretty epic electro production to match the girls' spunky rebellious personalities. The closest comparison you could make is 4 Rihanna's coming together to make a classically ingenious pop album. Doesn't that sound great?
Don't get me wrong, the album has its problems. The first four songs happen to be the singles, making it a little top heavy and the rest of the songs have #trouble living up to the standard set by them. Furthermore, these songs have a tough time keeping Neon Jungle from veering into other stars territory, with "Can't Stop The Love" sounding a little too much like a Black Eyed Peas single. The girls also put in too many covers on the album, with Hozier's "Take Me To Church" and Lorde's "Royals" making the cut. Along with that, the girls still haven't mastered the whole balladry and acoustic thing as "Louder" and "Waiting Game" really detract from the inherent fun of the album. Ultimately, this seems like a tough sell on creating material when the Jungle didn't have enough songs.
*Side Note: There has been much controversy surrounding Neon Jungle covering "Waiting Game" by LA singer BANKS and putting it on the album without BANKS knowing about it. BANKS has taken the time to air her grievances and Neon Jungle has not made a statement. It's a little sad as the girls really should have made more songs instead of adding their Youtube Covers to the album. However, it seems a little unfair to drag the album as their version is far different from BANKS's and will ultimately, bring her a lot of attention. So it might be hard to hear someone receiving praise for your song, but BANKS will benefit in the long run and her album is sure to be amazing as well.
However, we have to remember that this is Neon Jungle's first album when their first single came out less than a year ago. That's faster than other bands like M.O or Mutya Keisha Siobhan who have been around for a lot longer and still haven't gotten around to releasing material as monumental as Neon Jungle. And that does go for every song on the album: MONUMENTAL. The girls sing, belt, rap, sneer, and laugh their way across songs like "Braveheart" and "Bad Man" which shows just how much personality matters in songs (love the Japanese Asami). It may be their first album, but they hold their own throughout.
The album also has the best collection of writers on a pop album in 2014. First off, Anita Blay and Benjamin Berry were the masterminds behind "Trouble". If their names don't ring a bell, you may recognize them as Cocknbullkid, responsible for the incredible Adulthood album, and Fear Of Tigers, who are known for their bonkers electronica. Cocknbullkid also worked her magic on two bonus tracks. The first is "Future X Girl" which is arguably the best song off the entire album. With that "These boys can't step to this, so take a seat cuz I'm that bitch" rap and hand clappy rhythm, the girls solidify their status as the coolest band since Girls Aloud. We can also attribute this amazingness to the co-writer being Aminata Kabba, otherwise known as A*M*E, one of the BEST popstars in the making. It's not over though.
The second single written by Cocknbullkid is "London Rain", the best ballad from the album. It was written with Uzoechi Emenike, aka MNEK one of the best pop singer-songwriters on the planet. Like this dude rivals Sia and Gaga with his writing ability. Seriously, I'm dying. BUT WAIT. Joining the ranks on Neon Jungle's collaborators is "Boom Clap" hitmaker, Tumblr enthusiast and one of my all time favorite people in music, CHARLI XCX. That's write, "So Alive", the second to last song on the album (so unfair), is a bonafide bouncy electro belter written by Charli XCX!!!!! If that song isn't released as a single, I may have to have a word with Neon Jungle's management (it's really good guys).
Basically, these girls strut like they own the world and the self-praising single "Welcome To The Jungle" announces their arrival to pop as the new queens in town. Now I don't say this lightly, but Neon Jungle have officially joined the ranks of Girls Aloud, Spice Girls, and The Saturdays to represent the best of British girl pop. And if this album was good, just think how good the next one will be! Don't get in too much #Trouble till then girls.
Best Listened: In your car, shamelessly belting and rapping with the Jungle
Best Songs: All the singles, So Alive, Future X Girl
NSOTP Rating: 8.9/10