You know how music goes around in waves, as record labels and radio stations jump on a sound and play a bunch of me-too bands? I think we’re in one of those waves now.
I thought I’d made a mistake with Junip - Line of Fire began like a Two Door Cinema Club track. Vaguely folk, vaguely pop, with lots of guitars and harmony. It has an accoustic seventies feel, but with distinctly modern production. Add a slow build and a bit of Simon and Garfunkel in their epic days and you can hear how Junip have arrived as one of this year’s big new bands.
The problem is that the eponymous album moodles about, musing on this and that without saying anything particularly important. It’s like a post-party chat with a some chilled-out friends on a sofa.
Suddenly goes in a different direction, sounding a bit more current, but I’ve already forgotten what it’s about. So Clear highlights Junip’s rhythmic playing, starting a vibe that is a bit Stone Roses, the Mad-chester sound from the 90’s, trance-like and ambient.
By the time Your Life comes around Junip are in a groove, immediately familiar, but not quite distinctive enough from Two Door Cinema Club – a little more laid back perhaps, and with a bunch of perfectly good melodic songs. But I miss 2DCC’s energy.
Villain has a weird production sound: Kasabian on a budget, the distorted vocals so far back in the mix, I have no idea what the lyrics are. It rolls along and doesn’t go anywhere. Then Walking Lightly with it’s percussion and drums goes back to an ambient Stone Roses sound; it’s an intriguing mix and one of the successes, even though it’s lightweight stuff.
Head First carries on in that groove, with some electronic tones. Nothing wrong with the quality of musicianship or arrangement, but you’re starting to think perhaps somebody took too many marijuana cookies into the studio. It’s got no oomph! Baton is the same, but with added whistling. Now whistling, in my book, is never a good sign on an album.
Beginnings comes, oddly, near the end in the running order and is, by now, unremarkable. The vocals and production moodles up and down and it’s all very atmospheric. After All is Said and Done, what have you got? A really good title but a driftalong song that eventually floats off down the river and disappears.
So I’m left a little underwhelmed by Junip. Perhaps I’m just not into their brand of ‘chillax’ music. I’d hate to listen in the bath as I’d probably fall asleep and drown. As a collection of easy melodies, you can’t fault it. But after it’s finished, Junip is one of those albums you know you kinda liked but can’t quite remember why. SC
Related: Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon