Non-debut eponymous LPs are always a curious move, especially considering any guiding lyrical theme. Is it a coincidence that Metallica‘s fifth album would be their last breath of true metal integrity laced with songs like “The Unforgiven” and “Sad But True?” What kind of statement did The Cure make with the move on their 12th, near thirty years after the inception of the band? Or Peter Gabriel – the dude probably would have kept letting his fans dictate unofficial titles for his albums forever, if not for US pressure to label the UK-eponymously released fourth album Security. What does that tell you about “Shock the Monkey?”

Certainly there’s no rule to for the title-less push. And great things happen to art when left the hell alone to interpret without a title, debut or not. Just the same as a late career decision may signify a complete shift in creative direction. But there’s definitely an unwritten mantra that such a move is reserved for an unveiling, a take-it-or-leave-it, this is our band (or this is me), hear us roar.

This is river-finger Swede José González‘ and Junip crew’s second album. Arguably one of the worst times to go eponymous, following three perfectly titled EPs – Black Refuge, Rope and Summit, In Every Direction – and an ever finer titled debut, Fields, accompanying a tantric, almost down-tempo acoustic and moog trajectory with meditative choruses that float like white froth on a riverbed, or wind uninhibited, always leading to something free, or an escape. One of Fields‘ finest moments happens on”Without You,” distilling the band’s ethos into a verse: [LISTEN]

She feels she needs to leave
To avoid a messy aftermath
Alone between lines of anguished needs
Rearranged to allow a newborn path

There were obstacles to maneuver around on Fields, named with things like “Sweet & Bitter,” “Don’t Let it Pass” and “Off Point,” Junip providing the calm velocity over/through them. But they weren’t harrowing obstacles. Whereas Junip gets dark. The paths traveled here can get treacherous, its opening track, “Line of Fire,” is a do or die cautionary: [LISTEN]

No one else around you
No one to understand you
No one to hear your calls
Look through all your dark corners
You’re backed up against the wall
Step back from the line of fire

Same story with “Your Life, Your Call,” “Villain,” “Beginnings,” handfuls of tracks roll out with more space in between the band’s careening vibe of yore, percussion more intense, shadows taller, moog and synths swathier. The latter of those three, a stumbling brooder of a walking bass number, has González almost giving up on the journey:

Oh to see the light before the day you die
Tired of asking for you to try

It’s a beautiful new direction for the band, fearless, while still using familiar tools in their wheelhouse, thus very much transformative. Life, unfortunately, often gets divided into two sectors. Like a half-empty or half-full water glass. Uphill or downhill. Yin or yang. Junip have found a away to get closer to themselves and remind us once again that obstacles make fluidity that much more transcendental. And of course, an eponymous statement can be made on a sophomore effort. By the time you get to “So Clear,” on the heels of “Line of Fire” and “Suddenly,” it will all make sense:

Wherever you look
It’s always the same
So many people
Playing the same game
Didn’t imagine
We would end up here
Now that it’s fading
I feel so clear