Jaguar, the latest record from Houston’s Young Mammals released earlier this month, was inspired by Jean Rouch’s 1967 film of the same name. According to singer and guitarist Carlos Sanchez, “The energy of the film…the idea of becoming a jaguar in the city resonated with me. That’s what started the initial writing for our record.” While I’m not personally familiar with the Rouch film, I will nevertheless posit that the record definitely has a classic cinematic quality, from its lyrics to its music, that takes the listener along on its journey.
“Crane” opens the album with its rough around the edges pop rock. The interplay between the guitars of Cley Miller and Sanchez works beautifully as they at times clash and crash into one another before intertwining in tense harmony. The album’s title track is next with its traces of New Wave drama and structure. As the tune’s dynamic peaks and valleys roll along, Sanchez sings “My baby’s a jaguar, she’s a jaguar” with conviction and glamour. This narrative reveals itself again just a track later on “Turfed” where lyrics bemoaning that the “Jaguar won’t be mine” are softly crooned over the beautifully layered ballad.
“I’m Sleeping” is a poppy and joyous ode to sleeping the days away with a driving, danceable beat. “Mango Beach” opens with a Beatles-esque arpeggio and descending bassline that leads into a mellow, sparsely populated track that gives the song a live quality. While Young Mammals do rollicking wall of sound style rock such as on “The Slight”, “Mango Beach” displays their ability to create an intimate atmosphere and the crisply recorded bass of Jose Sanchez anchors the track in a vivid way. “Rat In The Summer” gradually builds a wave of musical tension that crests fantastically as chiming clean guitars and crunchy distorted ones intermingle over soaring vocals and evocative tones and percussion for a musically immersive experience.
“Auroras” is an exuberant pop punk shimmy and shake with caterwauling guitars and shouted lyrics, overall perhaps the most raw tune on Jaguar. It is followed by the ballad “Heavenly” and the juxtaposition between the two tracks showcases Young Mammals’ ability to bring the same level of emotion and technique to a track regardless of its tempo. “Morning Vice” closes the album by unleashing a beefy riff over Justin Terrell’s powerful drums on the listener. As dreamy vocals and jagged guitars crash together on the chorus, the tune’s bouncy, pristine bass propels things along. The instrumental portion highlights the almost surf rock beat and the understated synth work of Collin Hedrick adds a fullness of sound to the track.
Jaguar was recorded at Houston’s legendary Sugarhill Studios and is available now on Odd Hours Records.