Artist: Jumbling Towers

Album: Jungle’s Going to Be on My Mind

Jumbling Towers are an energetic lo-fi pop band from St. Louis, and — well, one reason Jungle’s Going to Be on My Mind isn’t ranking higher (aside from the fact that some albums *have* to rank near the bottom of an albums list) is that this is all I’ve been able to learn about them. They play fast, jungles-going-to-be-on-my-mindmelodic, often noisy songs in which guitar, bass, and drums (or drum machine) are supplemented by organ, piano, cacaphonous percussion, and/or strings. Joe DeBoer sings in a high, pinched, clipped and fey faux-British accent — a bit like Colin Meloy of the Decemberists sitting in a room where the air is laced with helium, trying to calmly pretend it’s just fine that someone almost strangled him to death two minutes prior — that ought to be good for enunciation. But the compressed production, the eccentric backup vocals, and the usual presence of instruments in the treble range make it hard for me to pick out full thoughts.

Which is a shame: the lyrics are probably interesting. Our Rehab Neighborhood, for example — a song where the production leaves occasional room to breathe — appears to be a tale of Mafia-style capitalism, told with dignity, pride, and regrets at the necessary bloodshed and the resulting loss of innocent youthful revelry. Writer’s Strike, dancey ’80s synth-pop with busy drum-machine overridden by squalling bass and treble guitar, seems to imagine something fiercer from the title than I do: “I’m afraid of a radical undertaking/ I’m afraid of infrastructure breaking”. At the Cashier’s Station, a lovely song opening with simple piano and more drum machine, seems to be sketching out, from a friend’s perspective, a sensitive portrait of the aftermath of a romantic breakup; I’m going to assume that’s still the case when the guitars ring in, and DeBoer’s voice is distorted, and he probably isn’t rhyming “bus stop” with “Ewok” no matter what I hear. My Country, a dignified processional centered on piano and rudimentary echoing drum thwacks, celebrates an America of malls, bandwidth, and summer heat waves that “has a mission statement/ and a handle on the value of impatience”. I don’t have any guesses about No Apricot, but I like the interplay of the soft, low bass guitar, the sawing cello, the pretty next-room backup vocals, and the firm unyielding drums, and if it’s about not-apricots, hey, so are most of my favorite songs.

I will keep track of Jumbling Towers, in part because I think I will like them quite a bit more if they stop overloading the high-range frequencies (perhaps they’re trying to imagine Animal Collective as a twee-pop band?) and start printing their lyrics, both of which might happen. But already they write fine melodies and play them with enthusiasm; their mix of guitar noise, piano, and drum machine is unusual in a pop band; and I can’t help liking DeBoer’s foofy accent. So even if Jungle’s Going to Be on My Mind is all they aspire to, I can have a good time with that.

– Brian Block

To see the rest of our favorites, visit our Favorite Albums of 2013 page!