Junip - Junip

Despite some faultless guitar playing there is so little happening that it barely raises a pulse.

Label: City Slang

Rating: 6

José González is best known as the man who brought us his unique spins on ‘Heartbeats’ by fellow Swedes The Knife and Massive Attack’s seminal ‘Teardrop’. His other musical avenue is the trio Junip who are back with their second long player, the follow up to 2010’s ‘Fields’.

The self-titled album opens strongly with ‘Line Of Fire’, a woozy Broken Bells type number where the frontman sounds at his most earnest complete. Proceedings then take a stylistic u-turn on down tempo ballad ‘Suddenly’, González crooning uncannily like Alexis from Hot Chip over deep bass squelches and the sound of bashed wood blocks. It’s pleasant enough, meandering gently without much purpose whilst ‘So Clear’ is an equally pedestrian offering whose layered sounds do little to disguise the ‘if it’s alright with you, then it’s alright with me’ lyrical platitudes. Rising from the pit of mediocrity is the slow, simple but catchy ‘Your Life Your Call’, one of the rare moments here which leave traces in your mind once the music has been switched off. There are a wealth of nice little touches here, the near intelligible bridge and the chunky vintage electronic sounds which pepper the closing stages adding to its delicate charm.

The musical schizophrenia continues with the sub two minute ‘Villain’, an experimental fusion of grungy guitars and warm synths which provides stylistic respite without ever delivering that knockout punch. Next up is ‘Walking Lightly’, the most frustrating sonic vignette where the words ‘we are all walking lightly’ are repeated to death until you are relieved to be left with the wistful percussive backdrop. ‘Head First’ is better, a psychedelic fusion of guitars, bleeps and white noise which kickstarts your attention without outstaying its welcome. For those of you who love whistling then the laid-back ‘Baton’ will be right up your street but despite some faultless guitar playing there is so little happening that it barely raises a pulse. The album finishes with ‘Beginnings’ and ‘After All Is Said And Done’, the former exploding with gorgeous little crescendos of sound whilst the latter is a dreamy stripped back affair which sees those soothing vocals come to the fore. 

Despite the occasional smattering of experimentation there is little if any progression from their previous material. Whilst there are a couple of noteworthy exceptions there is simply too much here that simply slips into background music fodder. Next time they should give Danger Mouse a call.