Rock trio Junip is Swedish indie folkster José González’s reunited band. The band formed back in Gothenberg in the late 90s’ as a teenage hardcore group, and they have released a few singles and EPs. They got together for their new record Fields after a 5-year break where Sony used González’s cover of The Knifes “Heartbeats” to sell TV’s back in 2005, and with the international success of Veneer and selling a million records he toured his solo material for a few years. This is the first time the members focus exclusively on the band, and even though you can hear his trademark vocals and hypnotic guitar playing, there’s now some warm fender rhodes and synths from Tobias Winterkorn and sparse jazzy drums from Elias Araya.
The spirit of the ‘60s and 70s’ lingers heavily in the air on the opener “In Every Direction”. This is prog folk with a wall of psychedelic keys and nylon guitars, with hooks and choruses. It’s trippy and retro, and the band takes you on a transcendent ride. “Always” follows with layered vocals like a gentle but catchy Simon & Garfunkel tune, sung in a summer breeze. First single “Rope and Summit” is a jazzy and soulful jam, with a hint of shoegaze, and it makes you wanna dance around a bonfire. José sounds like Thom Yorke, and the track wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Radiohead’s In Rainbows. “Without You” has the same ambiance as Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” while “It’s Alright” goes for a more folksier Nick Drake territory with simpler and softer arrangements. “Howl” is the best track on the album; a unique sound of Thom Yorke singing a soft rockabilly tune over Nina Simone’s “See-Line Woman,” while John Martyn is playing guitar and fellow Swedes Peter, Bjorn And John are producing. It’s weird, soft and up-tempo. “To The Grain” has a beautiful folksy guitar opening, and an irresistible twinkling xylophone that haunts you while listening. Closing track “Tide,” opens with melancholy and spacious rhodes, and ends in a big psychedelic climax.
José González sounds more interesting when he’s jamming with his friends, and Junip is all about quality over quantity. The result is a compact album filled with progressive new sounds of folk, and even though listening to José’s close mic’ed and filtered vocals gets a little tired, the record is consistent and avoids becoming boring and repetitive