6 November 2016

Júníus Meyvant - Floating Harmonies

Júníus Meyvant is the stage name for one Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson from the Vestmann Islands of the South coast of Iceland.  According to his Facebook page, he struggled for years to learn music, was a bit rebellious and then he was self-taught after discovering a beat-up guitar in his parents’ house.  He came up with the alter-ego of Júníus Meyvant after his previous attempts at forming a band did not live up to his expectations.  As I am not wanting to read previous reviews (so I am not swayed in my own opinion before I complete the review), I do not have too much to say before I start this other than it is time to find out what this man and his music sound like......

01 - Be A Man

'Be A Man'
which is an instrumental opening track, this reminds me of the music of Hercules and Love Affair with a classic slab of luscious pop and strings.  It is a beautiful track, the passion of the music flows through every note; but it goes on for a beat too long for my tastes and could have been a tighter sub two minutes of quality.

02 - Beat Silent Need

Flowing on from 'Be A Man' we are introduced to 'Beat Silent Need' and the first thing you notice is the voice of Júníus Meyvant, these vocals could charm anyone into anything.  It is a song that reminds me of classic Marvin Gaye, the guitar is tight, the bass is focus, the drums/percussion restrained when required and the strings/horns are brought in at the right moments.  It is a beautiful piece of music, with a retro tone that is beautiful to hear.

03 - Color Decay

With a gentle leaning and reflective tone, 'Color Decay' (so tempted to use the UK spelling, but always respect how the artist calls their work) is a string heavy piece that studies the colour draining from the world at times.  It sounds beautiful, but again it goes on just that beat too long and whilst it is still sounding good, it could have been given a shorter ending.

04 - Neon Experience

A song about nothing in some ways; it could be about love, it could be about never letting the world get on top of you or none of the above.  It is cut from a similar piece of sound as 'Be A Man' and it repeats on itself without really hitting its own groove. It has a quieter moment around the three-minute mark and then it starts over again, taking it to over six minutes when it could have all been done in less time. 
05 - Domestic Grace Man

With an acoustic guitar, 'Domestic Grace Man' starts off on its gentle pace towards a personal nirvana.  Júníus Meyvant's father & brother perform on this song, giving it a family feeling and when the singing starts it has a warmth.  It has an additional country vibe with the guitars and it sounds fine, but once again it could use a little bit of editing.

06 - Hailslide

A song that was conceived whilst skateboarding in the hail, 'Hailslide' is as far from skateboarding music as I can think.  It has some beautiful music, a slow pace and it feels that it is as if it has not lingered too long.  It is peaceful and reflective, such a beautiful number that it is hard not to be enjoy this number.
07 - Mighty Backbone

A song about getting the community together and the power of support, this song is another example of how to keep it short and simple; when this album is to the point then it works, this song is one of the shining light here after 'Beat Silent Need'.  It has all the top-quality point of the album, all fixed in a beautiful bow that keeps it to the point.

08 - Gold Laces

A song about how Icelandic society is moving away from the family based country to a fast-growing economic, this song has such a sad soul.  The music reflects the lyrics well and this slow number is one that will be hard for some people to hear; sadly though, it is another song that would need a slight trim to make it better.

09 - Signals

A song about loving God and people who use God as a tool for war, this song is a hard-hitting subject for Soul music, something that Soul music has never been afraid to face over the years.  Whilst I am not one for religious subjects these days, it is still a good song that will give people a lot of food for thought and once more went on a little too longer towards the end.

10 - Manos

I think this song represents the album perfectly, seven minutes in length, well played and it could have been beautiful.  But it just keeps on going when it would have been best to stop, let the reflective piece about the soul enter the listener instead of going past the point where it is effective.

11 - Pearl in Sandbox

'Pearl in Sandbox' is an acoustic number with just Júníus Meyvant and his guitar for company, a song about having to apologise for messing up over & over again that goes on and on and on......  The song itself is another that sounds lovely, but once more it needs someone to suggest that the stopping point was sooner than six minutes.

12 - Floating Harmonies

Named after Júníus Meyvant backing band, 'Floating Harmonies' is a strange number to end the album on.  It is a song that has a patchwork of ideas for lyrics and sort of feels as if it is not quite focused on the end result.  Once more we are treated to a good song that would have benefitted from some quantity control.

I think the best way to describe this album is good, but needing another set of ears to polish it and make it shine; which is a strange thing to say about an alternative soul/pop record, but please bear with me.  As a man who regularly listens to songs that can last hours, I also love it when a song is kept to its briefest and most polished form as well.  This is something that happens mostly in pop, soul and sometimes indie which is where this album lives, but somehow it feels like it needs a little bit of a trim to some of the songs.  Sadly, this does not happen on this record and whilst there is nothing wrong with the music, it sometimes hangs around a little too long which is a shame as not every song needs a dramatic and gripping ending.  Júníus Meyvant has a brilliant voice and I hope he reaches the success that those haunting vocals deserve, but it also needs someone who can edit as well.  There is a quality here which deserves attention and the music itself is very good; hopefully on the next one it will be a little tighter.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there.

Top track - Beat Silent Need

You can purchase Floating Harmonies on Amazon here.

You can visit the Júníus Meyvant website here.

You can follow the activities of Júníus Meyvant on Facebook here.

You can stream Floating Harmonies on Spotify here.

You can stream Floating Harmonies on Deezer here.

You can stream Floating Harmonies on Tidal here.

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