Junius – Self-titled 2LP
The Mylene Sheath
Last year when I received Junius’ The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist I was hugely impressed with it, was amazed that I hadn’t heard of them before and I wanted to hear what I missed. I finally get that chance with the release of this self-titled album. This was the very first Junius full-length that came out in 2007 but was never available on the correct format (vinyl) until now. It was a long time coming but well worth the wait.
On this album, Junius play super-catchy to the point of being infectious indie rock. They have layered, slightly droning guitars with a tiny hint of shoegaze. The guitar leads drive the songs and are downright hypnotic. This is backed by a full-sounding rhythm section that crafts some thick, punchy but not heavy tunes. It is a sort of hard-edged indie pop with dense guitars. The vocals have the slightest hint of a UK influence from some of the post-punk and alternative bands that came from there over the years. They are really melodic and emotive but not the least bit whiny or emo. The vocals are every bit as hypnotic as the music they are blended with. Whoever mixed this record really nailed the sweet spot of vocals vs. music.
The songwriting is complex and I imagine they spent a great deal of time working out these compositions into the beautiful multi-layered finished product. The first two songs that comprise the first side of the record: “Hiding Knives”, and “We Can Fall Forever” are so incredibly catchy and downright awe-inspiring that I seriously played that side of the record about a dozen times repeatedly before ever flipping the record over to continue the album, but when I did the rest of the album was every bit as good. How Junius aren’t a household name in indie rock is baffling to me as they are better than pretty much every band that is more well-known. This album, to put it simply, is stunning.
This album is spread over two 12″ colored vinyl discs (in this case they are red and limited to 300) that come in a gatefold sleeve. The full color printing shows off the equally beautiful artwork. The inside of the gatefold contains all the lyrics that are printed raised (not embossed) above the stock and coated with a gloss. If you rub your fingers across it you can feel the printing and a very cool painting/collage resides above the left side lyrics and another painting adorns the right side lyrics. The stock of the cover is very thick and reeks of quality. The colored vinyl discs play at 45rpm and the mastering job is spectacular. The record has a nice warm and full sound that outclasses any digital version of this album you will ever find. This album is going to be spending a lot of time on my turntable for many months to come (which may become problematic when I’m reluctantly forced to remove it from the turntable to review other records) and this album gets my highest possible recommendation.