After a couple of weeks listening to 'The Culture In Memoriam' and their album 'History's Dust', it's probably done me the world of good to listen to something that is very different both musically and lyrically, and Júníus Meyvant's debut album 'Floating Harmonies' has therefore been perfect. Whilst the instrumentation and arrangements are probably equally complex in both albums, Meyvant's musical outputs comparatively feel like the finest polished marble - the tracks are sleek, sophisticated and highly refined. And it is a rewarding, immaculately written album too, which i think will have widespread appeal.
We've covered Júníus Meyvant a few times in passing at Nordic Music Review, and 'Floating Harmonies' is certainly highly anticipated, his early single releases were really well received, and he was awarded the Best Newcomer at the Icelandic Music Awards last year, among other awards and nominations. And actually I'm expecting this album to get some real widespread coverage, so i probably won't go into a huge amount of detail on individual tracks (you'll be delighted to know), because actually just getting hold of the album and enjoying its luxurious pleasures, is probably the best thing for you to do.
The album opens with a big rich instrumental track, 'Be A Man', and it’s a statement which exudes confidence. It's also a mighty good start to the album, with tight, breezy brass and strings blazing out tunes that mix clean spiky rhythms and sweeping mellow melodies, and the track could have been written by a cinematic film or TV composer. And then when the vocals are introduced in 'Beat Silent Need' with the same sumptuous instrumentation, it just feels so effortless, as if Júníus is standing on stage accompanied by a refined orchestra. In fact if he could just upgrade the UK 'Manchester Gullivers' gig in September to the Bridgewater Hall with the Halle Orchestra, that would perhaps just be ideal. The 'Color Decay' and 'Neon Experience' had both already been released, but they sound perfect embedded in the midst of the full album, even if Neon Experience is probably my least favourite track - maybe it's just too smooth for my liking.
I still love the string opening to 'Hailslide', and it's a track with a lovely laid back feel, 'Mighty Backbone is an instant favourite whilst I also love the way that 'Gold Laces' develops from a simple acoustic guitar opening to another track which benefits from subtle string arrangements - never overused or too intrusive. And actually it's the latter tracks which surprise me so much, understated and far more delicate than the opening songs. 'Manos', 'Pearl in Sandbox' and the final title track remind me that underneath everything, Júníus Meyvant is a simple singer songwriter at heart, with excellent vocals that underpin his writing, whilst the intricacy of the instrumentation in 'Manos' fits perfectly into the 'Floating Harmonies' ethos.
I approached the album with a very open mind, I was pretty sure this would be a well received album, but I did wonder whether a whole album of 'Neon Experience' type soul pop 'suaveness' would be simply too much for my listening ears. But this album has way more to it than that, from the wonderful instrument arrangements in 'Be a Man' and 'Mighty Backbone' to the fragility of 'Pearl in Sandbox', there is a real versatility, as well as depth and originality. For sure, if you're on here today looking for your next new Nordic Psych Post Punk band, this won't be your thing, but this is musical composition of the highest order, and Júníus Meyvant is a huge talent who should be appreciated.
Nordic Music Review 8.5/10
Júníus Meyvant heads to the UK in September, for further details and tickets please visit http://juniusmeyvant.com/
Floating Harmonies was released on 8th July on Record Records, and you can get it on Itunes or buy the CD from places such as Amazon