Thursday, June 17, 2021

Take a trip to outer space on Junodream’s latest EP in a pitstop interview with the band

To celebrate the release of their sophomore EP we had the chance to chat with the band to find out more about the writing process, influences for the album, and animated dinosaurs.

London sci-fi rockers Junodream have been making a buzz in the UK’s underground since 2018, developing on their distinct space-rock sound, with latest offering ‘Travel Guide’ being their most cohesive work to date.

When talking about the biggest influence for the latest EP the band said: “We were getting stuck into the millennium - the fashion, the films, and of course the end of the world Y2K fiasco. Pretty gloomy, but excellent sunglasses.

“The world seemed a little apocalyptic at the time of writing, so the memo was very much end-of-the-world. In terms of recording, it was mostly done in our shed / studio, Shabby Road. There was a lot of experimenting and getting this painfully wrong. A lot of the wrongness is still in the songs. We like the wrongness.”

From the opening track ‘NY2000’ this millennia influence is evident, as is the melancholy that came with it. The ambient opener allows us to explore the world the band are setting up for us throughout this 18-minute adventure of an EP. The track hints to influences from Slowdive to The Verve, with ethereal guitar layered against pulsing drums in a song swirling with psychedelia. 

Eden Burns’ was the first single to be released ahead of this project and ups the ante from the kaleidoscopic opener“It's based around a drunken argument on climate change in the wee hours,” said the band. “It's a commentary on people commenting on the issue but not living up to their words. A commentary on commentary. Eat that, Christopher Nolan.”

One could draw comparisons with ‘Eden Burns’ to the work Radiohead was doing in the late ’90s, as the track is jam-packed full of pounding syncopated drums and Jonny Greenwood-esque guitar riffing. The last minute of the track is where the urgency really creeps in, with the song exploding into a frenzy of distortion; “Save your plastic bag / And stick your head into it / Never try and change it / Tell yourself you're sorry / No-one's gonna hear ya / No-one's gonna worry”.

Spiralling interlude ‘Niugnee’ transitions seamlessly into the next cut ‘Let Me Breathe Again’, where the band explores a modern take on an early 2000’s indie rock sound, with a distant fuzz on the rhythm guitar, a shrill lead guitar, and tight drums - think The Killers ‘Hot Fuss’ with more chaos. The sense of panic and disillusion built throughout ‘Let Me Breathe Again’ drifts away on title track ‘Travel Guide’, replacing it with a slower, more tranquil atmosphere.

Despite the lush instrumentation, there is an inescapable sense of melancholy throughout the track as their frontman sings about having to “Travel half the world / To shake this mood”. This melancholy is soon replaced by feelings of cathartic romanticism, with the track beginning to ascend as the words “Just drift away” are sung. There is something about the way the song makes me feel that reminds me of Wilco’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’; that conflicting feeling of absolute dread being overshadowed by romanticism. The last minute of the song feels as though that almost indescribable mood has been bottled up and is smashed into a thousand pieces on the floor, bursting open and creating a new sense of liberation.

The video for ‘Travel Guide’ stands out to me especially, telling the story “of a dinosaur that can't quite hack its modern existence and takes a trip to an island paradise” in the words of the band. A visually compelling music video is nothing new to fans of Junodream, so much so that the band have decided to host a one-off show titled ‘Junodream Live Cinema Screening’, where they will play in front of a projection of all their videos.

“It came off the back of the Travel Guide video,” said the band. “Wouldn't it be cool, we thought, to play along to this live on the big screen. Needless to say, it's a complete logistical nightmare but we've paid the deposit now. It will be brilliant.”

The notion of liberation built on ‘Travel Guide’ does not last long, however, as it soon drifts away into a much more sombre mood on closing track ‘White Sunday’. The standout moment from ethereal closer is the laser-like guitar lead in the chorus, which sounds as though it’s striking down enemy spaceships nearby. It is evident that the frustration from earlier tracks, such as Eden Burns, has dissolved into an unmistakable feeling of helplessness towards the end of the EP. Although melancholic it is pretty, nonetheless.

‘Travel Guide’ develops on the fantastic foundations that is 2019’s ‘Isn’t It Lovely (To Be Alone)’ to create what is undoubtedly their strongest work to date. Junodream are choosing their influences carefully all while walking the line between space-rock and indie-rock to meld their own distinct sound. They are definitely ones to watch as that much-anticipated album comes one step closer.

 

Alex Usher 

@alexushrr

Image: Official Album Artwork, Fred Trevor (Press)


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