The Spring Album You Need
When solo artists create a band, it would be only natural for their new projects tend to center around their presence. With Junip, luckily, that’s not the case. José González, a successful artist in his own right, fronts this group alongside drummer Elias Araya and keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn. González says on the band’s website that Junip is “truly a band album”—this is apparent not only by nature but also by name. By releasing a self-titled album, Junip declare their unity and security as a group, not just musicians who back up that guy that sang “In Our Nature.” And the result is a sweet one.
“Line of Fire,” the opener and first single, is a five-minute groove party that builds to a symphonic climax, with strong vocals singing out from start to finish. González questions, “What would you say / if you had to leave today? / Leave everything behind even though for once you’re shining? / Would you step back from the line of fire?” As if to prove a point, the swell of stings, keyboard and drums symbolize the “fire,” a wall of sound to overcome in order to move on to the rest of the album.
Junip’s success comes from finding the key to gelling with a haunting voice like González’s. That key is a combination of synths and drum beats, the latter of which often reveal West African influences. On “Baton,” for example, the vocals remain low and light, allowing a rolling bassline and tribal rhythm to take up equal sonic space. This track features whistling, a catchy whistle tune that sounds slightly distorted. Clearly, fans of José González’s solo work will be surprised, but hopefully not turned off.
Junip can also rock out. On “Suddenly” and “Villain,” the vocals give in to fuzzy guitar and dense synths that rise and fall like waves. Treble and distortion especially amp up the latter track, keyboards wobbing all the while. The band shows a surprising variety through the song styles and composition on this album—but all of them are fantastic. From the slow chillers to the heavy hitters, Junip is a success not for José González, but for Junip.