Review by Graeme J. Baty
A new act called JuJu popped up on my radar, 2016 seems to be experiencing a healthy/welcome resurgence for prog/Krautrock type music. I tentatively listened, unsure what I was in store for but found myself drawn in. Pleasantly catchy and soothing with a solid beat. This is interesting I thought. Intrigued by what I’d heard, I sat myself down in front of the hifi, turned the volume up and popped their self titled debut on.
The band name doesn’t really give a hint at what is to come, the album cover is rather captivating and it enticed me to give them a play. Their sound delightfully defies pigeonholing. There’s likely to be some comparisons to Broken Social Scene, Can, Sonic Jesus, flecks of later period Mercury Rev and even some British Sea Power. It’s a fair mixing pot of styles, the sound really does take on it’s own persona.
They’re a band comprising of other musical projects (Herself and Lay Llamas). It’s a concept album of sorts, the blurb which accompanies the album states “Through the music, JuJu tells the legend of a continuing exodus from Africa that more often than not ends in ignored tragedies at sea, ‘a total defeat for humanity’.” Forming a soundtrack to a deep meaningful story of crisis. Musically the album captivates me, but I wish I could find out more about the stories behind the songs.
‘Samael‘ opens the album with an infectious fuzz groove, proving to be a highlight of the album, a very wise choice for a debut single. ‘We Spit On Yer Grave‘ changes the pace with a soft piano repetition, it lulls you in as it grows and grows, catchy as hell. It possesses a lovely Broken Social Scene-esque dance vibe. This is great!! Three songs in and ‘Stars and Sea‘ is where I’m really hooked, lovely acoustic based song. The mood is slowed for next track ‘Dance with the Fish’ . It’s a lush instrumental piece reminiscent of Mercury Rev, which winds down the 1st half of the record perfectly. ‘Sunrise Ocean‘ is a long exponentially growing looping hook that sucks you in as it evolves in front of you. ‘Lost‘ is the penultimate track, scattershot rhythms and marvellous entwining riffs.
The last track ‘Bring ’em War‘ feels somewhat out of place, with it’s sea shanty time signature it fits the theme but it is a bit of an anticlimax. It just doesn’t seem to click for me and at eight minutes it’s a slight chore. I’ve listened to the record four or five times now and each time I keep getting the urge to skip this one. However I do think this track will go down very well in a live setting. Here it feels a little out of place, the square peg in a round hole. That said I’d love to see this whole album performed live.
The word ‘delightful’ keeps popping in my head as I listen and write this. I think that is the perfect way to summarise this record. Delightful.
Their debut is due out 6th May 2016 via Sunrise Ocean Bender Records.