Junip – Fields
Jeff Pearson, September 16, 2010
Originally published by Life’s Sweet Breath
Listen: “Without You”
Junip’s debut Fields was a long time coming. The Swedish trio comprised of singer/guitarist José González, drummer Elias Araya, with Tobias Winterkorn on synths and organ, have been playing together for the better part of ten years. Though often taking breaks to accommodate González’s flourishing solo career, Junip has finally had enough time together to bring us the 11-track, hazy offering of autumnal bliss.
Fans of González might immediately feel at home with the opening chords of “In Every Direction” delicately strummed, and then Winterkorn and Araya remind us very quickly that this is their party as well. Tight hand drums and spacey organ sounds, a staple of Junip’s aesthetic, stew on the surface of González’s whispered vocals and bouncing acoustic rhythms. “Always” and “Rope & Summit” apply these principles at a gradually deeper level, growing their sound and establishing it as their own.
This sound fully envelops “Without You”, a slow-building psychedelic anthem with synthesizers swirling around the listener’s head as González softly singing, “She feels she needs to leave when the fields are all covered in frost/And the dreams begin to breathe, opening the partly open locks.” Throughout Fields, González displays a knack for keeping his quiet demeanor in his delivery, even when stretching his voice out over a particularly hectic passage of music compared to what he might be used to with his solo work. This technique helps create an atmosphere of tranquility when combined with reserved percussion and soft spoken synthesizer lines.
The instrumentation plays a huge role in creating this atmosphere. With tracks like “Howl” and “Sweet & Bitter”, which could both be translated to the electric guitar and reach even the highest rafters, the nature remains quite subdued. It’s from these restraints and soft tones that a beautiful autumn vibe is born; the calm sound of change emanates from the finger-picked guitars and hazy organs. On “Don’t Let It Pass”, González sings of self-realization and expression. One cannot help but see the world laid out in front of them when he sings “When nothing is compromised, nothing is lost/Where everything is realized, nothing is crossed/But don’t let it pass.” Whether this is introspective reflecting on being where he has always wanted to be, or if it’s a battle-cry to the youth, is up to the listener.
The album closer, “Tide”, rolls over and carries with it any last doubt the listener might have had about whether Junip would work. Fields works on many levels, achieving a rare ability to tap into memories long forgotten, as well as moments shrouded in the fog of tomorrow, waiting to be lived out. They remind the listener to accept what may come, but to embrace the path that led them there.