Monday 22 July 2013

Roxy Jules - II

Album review by

Having sadly missed out on the first Roxy Jules album and therefore not knowing much of the back-story, it would be easy, especially given the cover art, to assume that Roxy Jules was a solo artist. Instead we find they're actually a trio, with the "Jules" part presumably coming from the name of the band's principle singer-songwriter, Julie Runa. With her bandmates being Manoj Ramdas and Sofie Kvist it's then tempting to perhaps think that the "Roxy" part is a nod towards Roxy Music, and it may well be, but it doesn't show in the music they make. Instead the Danes are perhaps closer in sound to their countrymen (and woman) The Raveonettes, especially on tracks like the twanging, booming, distorted, dark rock of 'Butterflies'.

There's much more to them than that though, and 'Roxy Jules II' doesn't stick to a set formula, although it doesn't chop and change so much as to become disjointed; the songs fit together well and share the same spirit. It's definitely a nighttime record, everything seems sinisterly nocturnal, and the lyrics to 'You Can Borrow My Sweater' ("let's go outside, I know this rooftop, come on, the city looks stunning in moonlight") add creedence to this. It's a slow, weighty and atmospheric piece but it sounds great. The haunting vocals and spooky piano on 'I Left You A Note' tell another mysterious story which appears to be about someone leaving, not just a place, but maybe life in general, as Runa sings "I've always loved the sound of rain, in some weird way it keeps me from going insane".

'Roxy Jules II' might not be full of sunshine and laughter but it's a very stirring and in an odd way a very exciting album. Perhaps this is down to the mystery of the songs or perhaps it's because you never quite know what's coming next. 'Lilies Of The Valley' ramps up the fuzz again and throws in a few disturbing effects, something that continues through cinematic standout 'Trouble Always Makes Noise' which groans like metal being contorted. Then the blackness begins to flow even more. 'Apple Tree' even has a name that sounds bleak and forbidden. It's often (erroneously) assumed that an apple was the forbidden fruit. Here's it's a stark piano-based song. 'Don't Believe The Demons' suggests that maybe it's actually too late and it's the demons who are already in control. The industrial 'Blood Makes Noise' intensifies things further, as though we're heading for a cataclysmic ending, which in a way we are. 'Join The City & Me' feels like a resignation, as if the foreboding doom that has hung over the album has finally won the battle. 'II' is a thrilling, interesting, sometimes intense but highly gratifying listen.

Roxy Jules' website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

3rd Aug @ Danmarks Grimmeste Festival
12th Sept @ Råhuset
14th Nov @ Viften, Rødovre
15th Nov @ Vershuset, Næstved
16th Nov @ Studenterhuset, Copenhagen

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