If you’re anything like me, when someone mentions the name José González the first thing you’ll think of is “that bloody bouncing ball advert”. You’d be right to do so, as Heartbeats ended up being ubiquitous – which can, at times, be no bad thing. But in 2005 you couldn’t escape it, and in 2006 when it was released as a single it crossed the line from ubiquitous to annoying.
Fast forward seven years, and his band Junip have released their second, self-titled, album.
Junip consists of González, Elias Araya (primarily on drums) and Tobias Winterkorn (primarily keyboards). The three of them together have made an album full of melancholic, yet earnest, tracks that have the potential (if you don’t have a heart made of stone) to bore deep down into your very being.
Opening track Line of Fire is a lush beginning; González’s vocal and guitar skills take centre stage here. Whilst he does only really play an acoustic guitar, it still has quite a momentum. Indeed, as you edge towards the end of the song a great feeling of inertia has built up and you wonder how just three members of a (comparatively speaking) ‘light’ band can create it.
There is a risk that with such a widely known frontman, whose previous publicity and fame came from a solo effort that the efforts of “the other two” could be overshadowed. I’m pleased to say that this has not happened. Your Life, Your Call is a clear example of this. it starts off with quite an electronic feel, with Araya’s percussion coming on strong, and propelling it along.
There are times when the limits of only three members playing a small number of instruments are exposed. So Clear is one such time, where you look at your display and see that there is still a minute and a half left and you think “how long left?”
Most of the time however, it’s a good listen and at times rewarding. Perhaps the most rewarding listen is Baton, which has at it’s spine a kind of reggae electronic beat that is joined in by whistling and sparse guitar licks.
All in all, I’d give Junip a chance. I think, considering the time that has passed, that any preconceptions you had about González should be shattered.
Junip’s eponymous second album was released on City Slang last Monday, the 22nd April.