Jinja Safari – Locked By Land

Jinja Safari have scored a wealth of acclaim and opportunity in just eighteen months together. Locked By Land, their latest release, seeks to justify their ascension to the limelight. The retrospective accumulates the band’s recordings to date with a few new tracks and remixes thrown in for good measure.

Locked By Land quickly captures Jinja Safari’s modus operandi well – opener Sunken House suggesting an earthy wilderness in fusing an uber-hip afropop with coolly ambient alternative rock. The band have been dogged in their persistence over their short career, this stylistic approach a fierce constant throughout the album. It’s just as well, then, that it’s particularly pleasing formula they’ve designed, their chirpy electronic tendencies colliding with their tribal thoroughfares beautifully. Jinja Safari profess a uniquely spiritual expertise, their dense compositions marked by a dreamy disconnect sure to straddle psychedelic territory. It’s as if the group have imagined a hipster-inspired renovation of an Australian Geographic outlet, their sonic ramblings both soothing and yet somewhat theatrical.

Naturally, Jinja Safari’s unabashed ambition accounts for the lack of a formidable pop context throughout Locked By Land. The album is intriguing for its adventure and a series of obtuse wonders, but on the whole, Locked By Land is not quite as blissfully intoxicating as you’d expect. In theory, Jinja Safari’s style appears irresistible, but in practice, the band only occasionally strike gold.

The level of the album’s quality outside of the band’s biggest tracks does fluctuate and, yes: the highlights are those singles that most indie-enthusiasts have come to know and love already. The jittery Hiccups succeeds in its strong melody, its chorus spiralling with an infectious flare before spruiking a delectable electronic cacophony. The band adhere to a kind of delicious mish-mash of Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes, Scarecrow – a hazy sitar-laced jam – and Families emerging prime examples. Meanwhile, the album’s remixes (packed in at the tail-end of the release) are actually worth checking out, particularly the funky Fishing Sandy Pant remix of Peter Pan.

Though Locked By Land leaves little wonder why Jinja Safari are so lauded nationwide, their back-catalogue conceals the occasional misstep. The band have secured the often-dubious distinction of being among the foremost unique specimens of Australia’s next crop: though their ambition often proves highly entertaining, they frequently lose sight of qualities both more appetising and enduring to listeners. Nevertheless, it’s hard to look past Jinja Safari. In the past year and a half they have exploded onto the scene and Locked By Land demonstrates that their popularity is not for nothing.