Junip: Fields

RIYL: The Radio Dept, Elbow, Kings of Convenience

José González is best known for his Nick Drake-inspired brand of hushed folk. His haunting and ethereal vocal presence has garnered the Swedish singer-songwriter a sizable following throughout the indie world. Despite a steady flow of EPs and two studio albums for Mute Records, González has still found time to work with Junip – the trio he helped form in the late ‘90s. Where his solo material is often sparse in everything from instrumentation to its production, Junip offers González a broader sonic palette to work from.

Junip’s first two releases, Black Refugee EP (2005) and this year’s Rope and Summit EP, showcased the Swedes backing González’s sweetened melodies and delicate vocal delivery with a fuller, much richer arrangement style. Fields delivers on the promise of Junip’s prior studio offerings, with one hypnotizing track after the other. The band weaves the kinds of subtle melodic nuances that seep into your head without you even knowing it. There are several of these little hooks in every song, and new ones often reveal themselves with each repeated listen.

Produced by the band and Don Alsterberg, Fields has some of the better keyboard tones (courtesy of Tobias Winterkorn) in recent memory. The warmth and chameleon-like way of fitting its surroundings make the keyboards one of the highlights on an album with many. Songs like “Always” and “Faded to the Grain” find a group that proves that genuine song craft is not a dead art form. Fields might be too sophisticated for modern rock radio, but in a perfect world, Junip would be playing stadiums along with Coldplay. (Mute 2010)

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