Junip

Junip

(Mute)

Apr 24, 2013 Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - Phoenix Bookmark and Share


When the apocalypse does finally hit, it seems likely that José González will join Cher and the cockroaches as the last thing left standing. Since 2003, the Swedish singer/songwriter has produced two solo albums of understated, elegant guitar-based folk. He's also one-third of Junip, alongside bandmates Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn. Theirs is an understated style that's almost guaranteed to age well, as it slowly carves out a place in the folk rock landscape with surgical precision.

The rock side of the equation is, at best, an adornment. At heart Junip is the brainchild of the same musician who turned The Knife's "Heartbeats" into a meditative gem. The majority of the heavy lifting is done by the potent combination of González's percussive strumming and aw-shucks voice, with Araya's drumming and Winterkorn's synths used to flesh out the picture. The uncluttered recipe works. Album opener (and perhaps the most boisterous of Junip's 10 tracks) "Line of Fire" simmers with a muted optimism, gathering momentum in a song-long crescendo that ends with all three members at their emotive peaks. The gang trades in their nylon strings for electric guitars on "Villain," but their crisp composition is marred by muddy production that does the song no favors. 

When the trio pulls back, they almost consistently find their sweet spot. Less is more-or so the saying goes. "Suddenly" features a subtle hip-hop beat disguised as a classical guitar riff. "Baton" goes back to basics, the band building the emotive track on whistling, woodblock, and only a whiff of synth. Stripped of González's signature guitars, the whisper-thin track demonstrates the band's impeccable skill as songwriters. Bring on Armageddonthese tunes will withstand anything. (www.junip.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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Matt
May 23rd 2013
8:44am

Great review! This girl has style.