[sic] Magazine

Søren Juul – This Moment

Late last year former Indians frontman Søren Juul quietly tabled a short but sweet EP of solo material, a glacial synth-pop taster of this forthcoming LP and, it was pleasing to report, it tasted good. That EP’s three tasteful tracks are repeated here, slightly reworked and lengthened, but present nevertheless. The immediate problem is, however, that the lion’s share of This Moment’s best moments still come from that release. Juul hasn’t really kicked on and that’s disappointing.

Of the newer material it’s “Don’t Want To Fool You”, which has a hint of the latterday Justin Vernons to it, Juul’s digitally treated vocal pulling delicate piano lines over pillowy dreamscapes, that is most satisfying. As pleasant as it is, though, it’s made to look better by the company it keeps. “Greenpoint”, for example, tries to make the most of a propulsive beat and watery synth work, but in reality it’s one long fade-out into surprisingly nothingy bedding music. The swooning “Dear Child”, also, whilst full of clever-clever clicks and percussive turns lands too close to the insipid end of chillwave for anyone’s liking. Frostier takes on the same sound equally add little, downright intangible soft-pop rounding out into higher-plane vapour forms. Even the closing title track, surely an opportunity to stamp some identity onto Juul’s album, is too smooth, washing over you without registering despite a big key change and the odd ripple of drums that do make it to earshot.

This restrained enthusiasm may be indicative of Juul’s Scandinavian schooling, his album’s soporific pace suitable for his tender synths and vocal murmur, but it neuters songs like “Pushing Me Away”, This Moment’s lead cut which has visions of Avalon but without the substance to back it up. This all leaves Juul’s imbedded 2015 EP to lead the salvage operation. This said, “Soulseeker” has neither the prettiness nor epicness to demand its reworked length at over six minutes, its sparse piano and micro synths losing none of their cloying nature from the original too.

Mercifully, “Ambitions” still builds impressively with tender acoustic guitar and electronics, rousing percussion and slashing synth pulses. It’s a creaky, chilly and outdoorsy sound that also has trace elements of neo-classical, Nordic post-rock in its DNA. The makeover given to “Manly Beach” is strong, too, its opening whispers growing perhaps even more beautifully than they did before into a truly emotive, cinematic swell. The greatest shame of all, however, is how these two remind you of what might have been.

Best track: “Don’t Want To Fool You”

~This Moment will be released 17th June 2016 via 4AD.~