Pave The Jungle – ‘The Hissing’

By Andy Joice

It can take some bands years to develop a sound that’s unique to them. For others, it can happen in a heartbeat, arriving fully formed and ready to go. For Pave The Jungle, it’s the latter.

After the dissolution of her previous band ILSER, Rachael Whittle formed Pave The Jungle in 2019, having completed a mentorship session with Mercury Prize-nominee Nadine Shah and her co-writer/producer Ben Hillier. To say the mentorship paid dividends is an understatement, with Whittle creating evocative, hard hitting, melodic music. For a band to form less than 18 months ago and already have a debut EP ready to go is impressive. But is it a case of trying to run before they can walk?

Absolutely not.

‘The Hissing’ opens with ‘Emerald’, a melodious ode to shit bosses everywhere. Reflecting the over-observation and constant sniping, we get just a taste of the power and range of Whittle’s voice. Almost effortlessly, she’s able to soar through the verses before dropping the almost whispered chorus line of “Those daggers in your eyes must hurt by now”. Drummer Scott Jeffery is the hidden gem in this track, his drum fills sitting neatly in the gaps, subtle enough to be noticeable but never overpowering the rest of the band. It’s a theme that remains ever-present throughout the EP, adding a distinct flair.

Vulnerability is a key aspect in honest music, and ‘Habitual Thinker’ is no exception. Opening with the strings of Whittle’s guitar in isolation, first line “I can see you wear your heart on your sleeve” is both deep in emotion and tone, with Whittle’s voice sounding richer than cocoa. Silky and soothing, it works to counteract the melancholic theme of repeated habits – both addictive substances, as well negative thoughts, and coping with such habits. It’s a bouncy, rhythmically heavy song that balances the difficult themes and instrumentation well.

Latest single ‘Fix’ deals with ongoing health issues, be it physical or mental, and the restrictions and limitations they throw up. Barriers that seem unbreakable, the claustrophobia that sets in being bound to a single place unable to leave. It’s another potentially difficult subject, being infinitely relatable to many people, but is handled with a delicate touch. Although it references the frustrations with the situation, it also acts as a call to arms, that you’re not alone in feeling such a way. Led by Jack Burlison’s rumbling bassline, it acts as an anchor, keeping the motif and melodies together like PVA glue.

Closing track, and debut single ‘Jelly’ is a meaty barnstormer, full of chunky rhythms. The guitarwork from both Whittle and Stephen McLaughlin battle each other for prominence, creating a trudging beat echoed by Jeffery. Whittle’s background is grunge and it’s noticeable here, with big sludges of noise between the verses and choruses, piecing together perfectly like a jigsaw. It also highlights her diverse vocal capacity, ranging from the silky notes we’re accustomed to, a far more fragile, almost pop tone, and even hitting a fairly convincing growl. The instrumental section is outrageous, battering you with the melody as it cycles through keys. Closing with a delicate repetition of the melody, it leaves you desperate for more. It’s a track that deserves repeat listening to pick up all the nuances and details.

As debut EPs go, particularly for a band less than two years old, ‘The Hissing’ is stunning. From the distinctive nature of Whittle’s voice and song writing, to the technical precision of the musicianship, the skies are the limit. It’s the perfect mix of grunge and punk, melodies and power, atmosphere and ambience. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most exciting EPs of the year. Keep your eyes on Pave The Jungle, before we know it, they’ll be out of our reach.

ANDY JOICE

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