Given both their band name, Jungfrau, and album title, Nacht, are in German, and they’re self describes as “Psych-Kraut”, you’d be forgiven for expecting the Brighton based four piece to trot out some kind of mind numbing sub-Can motorik shuffling and little else. Certainly being unfamiliar with them I was somewhat expecting a meandering set of overly long two note epics. Never have I been more pleasantly surprised then when the slightly eastern tinged Age Well shimmers in to being and kicks off a record that about as far from that as you could possibly imagine.
A sense of atmosphere is a trait perhaps picked up from the Germans, but that’s where it ends. Instead Hannah Graskamp’s commanding, almost bluesy vocals immediately mark out a more shadowed, cinematic sonic terrain that has more in common with a more sedate Oxbow, or slightly heavier For Carnation fronted by PJ Harvey at her darkest hour. There’s a sense of the ethereal about it this opener, like something you’ve heard in a dream but can’t quite place coming back to haunt you. The slow scene setting opener gives way to early album highlight Cardboard Girls next, another slowburner that creeps along over 10 minutes but feels about half as long as it actually is.
Red Wine Headslammer has something of the barroom about it, as you might expect. It’s easy to imagine the foursome playing in the corner of some dingy, half empty dive for its duration. But as evocative as this and it’s precursors are, it’s Pink Towers that’s the real dark heart of the album. There’s that dream thing again. Hannah’s vocals seem distant, pleading over some acid flashback guitars, while the rhythm section anchors the whole thing, moving it along confidently.
The closing duo of Straight But Pale and We Hiked continue along with that same feeling of the bass and drums being the lynchpin, navigating those reverbed vocals and almost there guitars (well, Straight But Pale has a little more of what you’d refer to as a straight up riff). The latter is the closest they get to that meandering Kraut feel but again, the almost wordless vocals and sinister sound guitar swells are a deal darker than anything from that sphere of influence.
Overall this is as fine a late night, bad mood piece of cinematic, Lynchian torch song heavy rock as you could ask for. Gritty, subtle and at times bordering the surreal Jungfrau are very much doing their own thing and have produced an absolute scorcher of a debut that’s quite unlike anything else I’ve heard this year so far. A fine, fine beginning that will have you itching for another record as soon as possible. With this upcoming reboot of Twin Peaks on the cards, this is the band who should be soundtracking it. Outstanding.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes