When a band takes a 12 year hiatus between formation and releasing the first album, it’s probably safe to say they aren’t too interested in rushing things along. Such is the case with Swedish folk-psychedelic outfit Junip, who, despite forming in 1998, have just released their second, self-titled effort. As you might expect, the best way to characterize it is, well, slow.
The album, a mere 10 tracks but still clocking in at 42 minutes, creeps along in an airy kind of way. Junip are notable in that they offer a unique take on the trend of folk-ensemble bands that seems to be so pervasive in music right now. Like Of Monsters and Men or The Lumineers, their tracks are infused with seemingly traditional instrumental elements and melodic, at times chorally-oriented vocals. But they depart from this in the aural quality of the tracks. Rather than swelling to overwhelming crescendos, Junip’s songs are thin and light, giving off an almost hollow vibe. They fill the role of background noise more than anything, which makes listening to them a unique, although mostly uninvolved, experience.
The album is definitely interesting, but it is slow and it is sleepy. It almost feels like the band is dragging its feet along through each song, dissolving into seemingly endless and fruitless repetitions with very little variation. As someone who is extremely partial to the overwhelming crescendos of bands like Of Monsters and Men, this was a source of immense frustration. I kept waiting for the band to break out, for some sign of life or emotion, but all I seemed to find was a constant deadpan sort of stability. Tracks obviously don’t need to be loud to be emotive, but when they are as timid as Junip’s, it’s very hard to relate in any concrete way. As a result, despite the soothing nature of Rodriguez’s voice and the band’s instrumental stylings, Junip seemed to me to be, above all else, tedious.
That being said, there does seem to be reason for hope. Having released this self-titled effort a mere 2 years after their decade-delayed debut, there is perhaps a new found need for speed that might just manifest itself in their music one day.