Release Date: Sep 14, 2010
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Fields is an ideal title for an album that has a tang of mists and mellow fruitfulness about it. Gothenburg trio Junip's skill at creating pastoral melancholy has much to do with the input of José González, whose solo success delayed the release of Fields by several years. The intimacy of his solo sound informs this record – even when it goes off on a Krautrocky tangent (Rope & Summit) or gets a psychedelic groove on (In Every Direction), the atmosphere is always subtle and underplayed.
Swedish trio Junip has been in limbo for a decade while vocalist/guitarist Jose González got sidetracked by the surprise success of his solo career. The soft serenity of his singing will be familiar to his indie folk fans, but on this long-delayed debut LP, the music also pushes toward more rhythmic, shambolic territory thanks to keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn's and drummer Elias Araya's contributions. [rssbreak] Oddly, considering González is often maligned as slightly dull, it's the considered restraint he and his Junip cohorts put on late 60s psych and sun-drenched folk that make Fields such a heady, satisfying listen.
If José González hadn't come along, the global advertising industry would have invented him. A Swede of Argentine extraction with an affinity for African rhythms, González initially drew worldwide-- or at least World Wide Web-- attention when his acoustic Knife cover turned up on a San Francisco-shot commercial for a Japanese high-def TV. The clip demanded a soundtrack with warmth and genuine feeling, but also a kind of cultural open-endedness, and González's wave-lapping "Heartbeats" fit the bill so well it's hard now to imagine other options ever existed.
Fields, the debut album by José González's band Junip, was nearly a decade in the making, and it sounds like it. Not because it’s particularly elaborate -- actually, in many places, it’s nearly as spare as González's solo work -- but because the chemistry evident on these songs only comes with time. González and his bandmates, keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn and drummer Elias Araya, began playing together in the late ‘90s.
If you were expecting a new direction from Jose Gonzalez when he reformed his band Junip, then you’re not only in for a disappointment, but you have lofty expectations. Gonzalez’s sound alone is richly resonant and intimate, and in Junip with drummer Elias Araya and organist Tobias Winterkorn, the trio doesn’t set out to blow up that sound, but rather to expand and build upon it in subtly new ways. The results on their first full-length, Fields, reinforce yet again the depth and reach of Gonzalez’s sound while setting it in a new, rumbling context.
Ire-fugged memories of [a]Jose Gonzalez[/a]’ mawkish take on [a]The Knife[/a]’s peerless [b]‘Heartbeats’[/b] meant that clawing our mind open for the return of his pre-fame band [a]Junip[/a] is a thorny task – but there’s a lost-in-the-pines dark undercurrent to the Swedes’ gentle psych-folk that makes it hard to hate. The listlessness that once made [b]Gonzalez[/b]’ voice so infuriating gives the likes of [b]‘Rope & Summit’[/b] a faintly disturbing feel beneath [a]the Radio Dept[/a] fuzz and twinkles. That surprising lack of offensiveness, though, isn’t replaced with anything to particularly excite, leaving it a tasteful aural curtain of an album without much of a view beyond.
An expertly constructed debut LP from the José González-fronted trio. Daniel Ross 2010 Junip are perhaps most widely known for having amongst their number Swedish singer-songwriter José González, but their short history (this is their third physical release in five years) is rather rich in its own right. Quietly intense, occasionally foreboding songs (including an utterly stellar cover of Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad as the B side to an old single – Spotify it if you’ve a spare moment and a hanky) that González is known for are beautifully fleshed out by his bandmates Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn.