Junip, "Junip" (Mute)
Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez is best known as a solo artist with a side project called Junip. But that band's self-titled second album should change the way we think of Gonzalez for good.
Gonzalez's bandmates, keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn and drummer Elias Araya, are front and center on the new album, adding depth to the sound and even stepping out in front from time to time.
"Junip" is filled with lush, spacey electronic prog folk that should appeal to fans on both sides of today's strum versus beep-beep musical divide. With its complicated interplay among Gonzalez, Winterkorn and Araya on songs like "So Clear," "Head First" and "Villain," Junip spans that gap perfectly.
The music is driven by Gonzalez's deceptively aggressive sense of groove on his nylon-string acoustic guitar and Winterkorn's imperial synth, a much bigger player on this follow-up to the band's debut, 2010's "Fields."
Yet the songs retain Gonzalez's lyrical approach. On opener "Line of Fire," Gonzalez asks: "What would you say if you had to leave today/leave everything behind?" And the thought of what might happen in that story stays with you just as long as the sense of unease the band builds with guitar, keys and drums.