When it comes to music José Gonzalez, the folk singer from Gothenburg, Sweden, seems to do little, if anything wrong. In the early Aughts, the singer was part of a trio with Elias Araya (drums) and Tobias Winterkorn (synth/keys) bringing forth the transformative nova folk spectrum known as Junip. To date, the trio has arranged EPs Black Refugee, Rope and Summit and In Every Direction. These equally rhythmic and melodic songs have been covered in the past few years by Massive Attack and The Knife, and acting as the theme song to Bones. Junip has also released two full-length efforts 2010’s Fields and this year self-titled Junip.
The group’s sophomore album takes the basic elements of Gonzalez’s minimalist tranquility and breaches a new context of certainty. While Fields hung on the line of “what sounds pleasant and what sounds nice,” Junip takes a new, tedious progression in the exercise of teamwork. Together, the trio flexes their lyrical muscles to compose a cannon of work – one that consists of a pitch-perfect, sonic understanding.
Opening track “Line of Fire” starts with lyrics, “What would you do if you had to leave today//if it all came back to you//each crest of each wave bright as lightning.” The emotive lyrics are motivational, much like spoken word text, to cross the line of living mundane and sans observation into the hard-won lessons of self-reflection. Gonzalez’s then gives advice of that desperate search by saying, “It’s your life// it’s your call// step back from the line of fire.”
“Suddenly” takes a beautiful tumble. While Araya derives trance-laden percussions, Winterkorn uses his limitless synths and keyboards to set the atmospheric arch and effective patterns of a tense but tranquil canon. “Villain” becomes the albums heaviest track. Pulsing with jammier bass lines and rousing rifts while “Walking Lightly” takes a turn into the meandering, with José’s voice mimicking a groovier, six-minute hike into an expanding and brightly excelling detailed level of attentive attraction.
“Head First” adds a harmonious draft, one that is lyrical attentive and genuine. “Baton” and “Beginnings” seems to feed their selves – using the nutrients of all the tracks before to slowly digest the tone of the album. It seems the final call is more of a sign of what it to come, a sequel on the horizon and a conscious claim that what we know as Junip is not over but in fact is just getting started.