Jose Gonzalez has not exactly been living the quiet life since the first Junip album, 'Fields', back in 2010 but it has taken him a while to come back into the fold and collaborate once more as part of this trio. The gap doesn't seem to have negatively impacted on the product as this self-titled album is full of hidden gems just waiting to give themselves up. If you're after immediate tracks with instant connectivity and clear commercial potential then Junip, the band or the album, are not for you, both are to be found under the term 'grower'.
The ten track set from Junip is full of subtle touches, intricate details and is sometimes more about what has been left out than put in. Less is more and artistic direction has had a strong enough will to determine that the production and arrangement are true to the band.
'Line Of Fire' sets the scene for the album with its revolving rhythms, undulating guitar and beautifully toned, smooth vocals. The harmonies build as a wall of sound washes over you: "Standing on higher ground, when you hear the sounds, you realize it's just the wind. And you notice it matters, who and what you let under your skin." The synthesised notes of Tobias Winterkorn's Moog usher in the softer sounds of the Folktronic track 'Suddenly'. The lighter percussive tempo has a no less engaging and enthralling vocal delivery before the bigger beats of the more extroverted 'So Clear' kick in. Here, a strong bass undercurrent scores the electro driven track as keyboard flourishes abound.
'Your Life Your Call' sees Junip adopt a bass line riff reminiscent of French band Air. The message laden, optimistic, life affirming and generally positive song has a great hook in the chorus and fabulously dirty, liquid score only upset by the intermittent introduction of a rather irritating wood block. 'Villain' then brings a heavy duty bass line to the fore in a more percussive touch of brevity as the album reaches half way.
The album's highlight, and possibly most accessible track, is next up. The Fleetwood Mac influenced 'Walking Lightly' trips in with a tribal drum arrangement, repeated, fabulously harmonised, vocal and a mesmeric delivery. The keys dip in and out, Asian infusions add to the mix and the whole song glows with a warmth and tenderness as the sound melts in your ears. A dreamier, near trippy, semi-psychedelic musical exploration is played through on 'Head First' before the whistling and bongos take over on the somewhat jazzier 'Baton'. Shoegazing manifests itself in all its glory on the penultimate track 'Beginnings', before gentle closer 'After All Is Said And Done'.
In an age where even artists may consider it an insult to have their work described as 'nice' it is difficult to justify the opinion, some consider it no opinion at all. Everything has to be brilliant, crap, dope, Phat, wicked, edgy, controversial, contemporary or cutting edge - pushing the boundaries etc. Junip by Junip, however, is a nice album. It is not offensive in any way, is easy to listen to and has some memorable moments. It doesn't give itself up all at once and it does require a degree of buy-in. This is well crafted, well executed, mellow music that has a warmth and character worth listening to but don't be expecting it to knock your socks off.
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