Review: Junip at Whelan’sTweet
Having originally scheduled tonight’s gig for earlier this year, it’s been a long wait for Jose Gonzalez and his returning endeavour, Junip, to roll into town. Despite Junip having made their debut as early as 2005 (when the band released their first EP), Jose appeared to have chosen to place the emphasis back heavily on his solo work until the album came out last year. As lofty as that solo work was, tonight it seems like an extremely well-informed decision.
While the voice is instantly recognizable, Junip are a very different beast to Jose Gonazlez as a solo artist. Tonight’s show is all about soaring aural landscapes, with Whelan’s swept up in all-encompassing melodies that flit and flirt, occasionally bursting through into beautifully fully formed pop songs. They make their greatest impression by simply splattering us with a measured yet monstrous sound, one that seems to wash over the listener at the troughs and blast at the ear drums at the peaks. It’s a style that’s performed with an ease bordering on nonchalance by a band that seems to expose classic melodies with comfort.
While there’s a selection of tracks on offer from the older Junip EPs, it’s tracks from ‘Fields’ that really stand out. ‘Sweet and Bitter’ is a fiercely atmospheric, allowing the band to strut and stumble their way through into intense-on-the-night summery-sounding pieces like ‘Ropes & Summit’ and stunningly beautiful single ‘In Every Direction’. Gonzalez’ voice is a comfortable stand out, but the fawning style of his band is what’s providing the sway-along atmosphere.
Having had the album on repeat for the past six months, we’re a little surprised, in truth, that Junip haven’t already built up a far larger following. There are still tickets available on the door tonight, and given the quality and emotion of the performance that’s unveiled inside, and the size of the venue, that’s something of an insult to a band that sound so impressively yet organically tight. Junip should get themselves on the festival circuit; it’d only take a couple of ‘might as well see them’ style Irish dates for ‘In Every Direction’ to become one of those songs everyone’s humming, and Gonzalez to comfortably dispel any remaining notions that his step away from solo performances was a bad idea. There’s no denying that the band that once seemed like a shattered remnant of his pre-solo career are fast becoming the best thing the Swede’s ever done.