Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
Record label: Dovecote Records
Jonquil's third album finds the mixture between Hugo Manuel's smooth, sometimes sweet but not cloying vocals and the peppy, easy grooves of the musicians as a whole coming together in a dollop of something just this side of 1984 or so -- if not exactly Vampire Weekend as an equivalent, then something equal parts Haircut One Hundred, a-ha, and something undeservedly obscure from the Mediterranean around that time. Certainly the sprightly highlife guitar lead on "It's My Part" and the winning, bright brass parts that recur throughout the album are the kinds of things meant to put a smile on the face at the least. Song titles like "Mexico" and "Getaway" may give a feeling of party music for the chillwave generation, but there's more of a sense of cool reserve as much as passion, a carefully constructed pose that slips easily from song to song and thrives because of it.
From the Oxford scene that begat Foals, Jonquil were, until last year, a shoegazing sextet with two albums to their credit. Now a fourpiece, they've condensed a range of textures – jerky guitars, hazy harmonies, skittish electronic beats – into something alt-poppier than previously (though singer Hugo Manuel keeps the shoegaze/chillwave flame alight with his occasional side project, Chad Valley). Point of Go bespeaks close attention to detail: harmonies are on-point (a particular highlight is the moment when the quartet's buoyant voices come together to ignite History of Headaches), Sam Scott's dabs of trumpet are used sparingly as dreamy counterweights, and rhythms are executed with a dazzlement that evokes Vampire Weekend (listen to, especially, It's My Part).
Just try and listen to “Run” from Oxford, U.K., band Jonquil‘s new album and not feel like a champ. Or “Getaway”. Or “Swells”. Or hell, most any song on Point of Go. It’s hard to think of another indie pop record this thoroughly uplifting and bright since Vampire Weekend’s debut ….
A classy and effortless-sounding set from the streamlined Oxford four-piece. Daniel Ross 2012 Brainy pop music is having its day in the sun. From Everything Everything to Grizzly Bear, the formats and tenets are being quietly tweaked and pulled to make your average pop fan’s brain expand. When it’s successful, majesty undimmed.
A follow-up to 2010’s One Hundred Suns EP, Point Of Go finds Jonquil more comfortable in its own sound. The tracks go from slow acoustic pieces to quick-strummed, hard-hitting songs voiced by Hugo Manuel (aka Chad Valley), and supported by a beachy, dreamlike tempo and sound. Opener “Swells” gives a clear shot of Manuel’s voice, a steady tenor that can do the smooth pop thing but is more interesting when it bounces around the room, as it does on “It’s My Part.” Jonquil sounds comfortable and confident on “Swells,” but it’s a song like “It’s My Part,” with its playful percussion (is that a cowbell?) and jiggling electric guitar riffs, that shows the band at its lighthearted best.
Since the release of their last album, 2008’s ‘Lions’, Jonquil have lost three members (who have subsequently gone on to form Trophy Wife) and gained one. Which, by my maths, means that they’re now at four.The newly formed quartet have created ‘Point Of Go’. The result is, whether forced or by choice, a reinvention of the Jonquil sound. The band have talked about “thinking about catchy chords … while still keeping our character” and that has translated into more accessible, more immediate pop songs.