REVIEW: Juniper

Square Peg Round Hole redefines instrumental music in their sophomore record Juniper, out March 25th on Spartan Records.

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Philadelphia’s Square Peg Round Hole is a hard band to characterize and describe.  They don’t fit squarely in the circles of post-rock or electronic music, though they clearly draw inspiration from both camps.  The band’s latest effort, Juniper, falls somewhere in the pop-y middle ground.  The split between genres, however, never results in a confused identity.  The band knows what sound they want to make, and their unified direction comes through clearly.

The album covers a range of moods and styles in its twelve tracks.  Glockenspiels propel lighter fare such as “A-Frame,” “Lapse” touches on glitchy electronica, “Smashed” broods and swells, and “Unraveling” closes the album with the most conventional post-rock tune of the bunch.  Textures range from warm organics to cool synths and drum kits, rising and falling to compose a grand experience.

However, there a few missteps in the course of the album.  The opening suite of “Introduction” and “Our Town” seeks to be heavy, but is ultimately disarmed by the aforementioned glockenspiel and cheesy, synthetic drum sounds.  Some of the tracks on the second side aren’t as compelling either.  Therefore, it’s harder to get into the album.

As the band’s name implies, Square Peg Round Hole blends together ideas that would seem an unlikely fit.  However, they succeed in their pairings without seeming too forced.  This album — particularly the last half, and particularly the third side (“Juniper,” “Come:Gone,” and “Name Not One Man”) — is fantastic.  Square Peg Round Hole employs a supremely creative approach to instrumental music.  Juniper never loses sight of melody in spite of being percussion-driven.  The album, for all its boldness, ultimately doesn’t betray its deftness and ease of execution.  Square Peg Round Hole has carved out a new place in music, and I’m excited to hear what comes next.

Check out the band on social media, and order one of the wicked-cool vinyl variants from Spartan Records.

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