The corrosive pink that colours Juniper Bush’s press photo is an accurate foretelling of the music the band creates.
The acidic shade has a deep history, recalling the dreamscape of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, the feathered fantasy of Garbage and even Pearl Jam’s Ten.
That these records are all ’90s staples is fitting — Juniper Bush operates in the always-fertile ground where grunge, shoegaze and jangle-pop unite, creating a sugar-sweet swirl of thunderous guitars and reverb-drenched vocals.
The band’s debut full-length album, Healing Through a Sonic Figure, is a disorienting swell of a record — a wave of texture and feeling that revels in a sea of hooks and Lizzy Burt’s haunting voice.
As with their forebears My Bloody Valentine, Juniper Bush seems interested in utilizing the voice as another piece of the enormous sonic puzzle, less centrepiece than equal player.
Burt coos and hums as often as she sings out, layering her voice over top and underneath the walls of guitar, creating dense washes of human sound amongst the thrashing.
The band is adept at crafting catchy hooks as well as conjuring atmosphere. Healing Through a Sonic Figure has just enough awareness of the album’s loudness to allow for the occasional detour — as when everything save a single twanging guitar drops out midway through the pummelling “Follow My Lead.”
The quiet strums that open the meditative “Turn” are also a welcome reprieve from the onslaught, a brief chance to breathe and take stock amidst the swirl.
But there is a brightness to Juniper Bush’s riffs, a surf-swing that sends the listener hurtling in the sun rather than wallowing in more downcast corners of shoegaze.
As well, Healing Through a Sonic Figure is a fitting title. There’s something balm-like about the warm rushes of sound that Juniper Bush creates.
Even at its loudest, there’s a comforting insularity to the album’s sound, a sensation of being swept up in something larger than yourself.
It’s the kind of album that can wipe your mind clear. Let it wash over you and you’ll likely find yourself somewhere different from where you started.
In fact, the record closes on the steady “And You,” a hypnotically inactive march into quietude. It’s a stabilizing end to a record that whips and twirls with such abandon, blowing each sound out to its obliterating endpoint.
In the age of isolation, Healing Through a Sonic Figure feels like a journey to somewhere else, a chance to disappear into sound.