“I realised my friends were mostly females and fell in love with the idea of a girl band of sorts, like the 60’s groups I grew up listening to,” says Juniore’s Anna-Jean. “That’s what I wanted most. A kind of sisterhood, made up of plenty of interesting and talented women…and of course to write music, connect, and share it with the world.”
The result that this sisterhood produced is a dreamy kaleidoscope of sounds that Anna-Jean playfully labels “yéyé noir”. As displayed on their UK debut album Magnifique, the Paris group also explore surf grooves, sunshine pop, sizzling psychedelia and garage rock. Whilst the music is buoyant, sleek and undeniably sexy in its skip and beat, it contains a lyrical depth that nestles deeper than the good times vibes of the sonics. “A lot of our songs are about love – mostly breakups, walks of shame, bad surprises or, in other words, unhappy love affairs,” says Jean. “I liked the idea of playing upbeat music to dark lyrics. There’s something about the contrast, the irony of things, the paradox of feelings.”
Whilst you will need to be fluent in French in order to understand the lyrics, there’s still a creeping sense of melancholy in the tone that makes the emotion within the songs feel universal. For Juniore, the exploration of French culture and heritage has also played a part in forming the identity of the band. “It’s been really nice to listen to interesting, innovative music in French, influenced by France’s musical history. I think the music we make comes from the same desire to pay homage to this history – in this sense, we feel a kinship to bands like La Femme or The Liminanas.”
For the album, Anna-Jean worked on most of the songs in her attic on an acoustic guitar, writing songs informed and inspired by everyone from Dario Argento to Francoise Hardy to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. She then took them to her band, consisting of Swanny Elzingre (drums), Laure Weisdorf (keyboards) and someone called the Thing on bass. Here the songs were brought to life through personality implants from the rest of the band, not simply filling out Anna-Jean songs but adding a new dynamic to them altogether, as she explains. “I try to inject something of the girls’ personalities in every song. Either in the stories we tell or in the music itself. Be it Swanny’s mermaid-like vocals, her delicate and rough beats, her passion for African music or Laure’s taste for eastern folk songs and her classical knowledge of music. It adds depth to the songs I bring out of my solitary room.”
The breadth of subjects and sounds that the band cover is also vast, the opening ‘Ca Balance’ oozes melancholy, with it’s fingerpicked electric guitar and gentle harmonic nods to the Everly Brothers, as it explores an ever-changing world. ‘Marabout’ tells the tale of a witch doctor prescribing revenge as some of Anna-Jean favourite childhood music – such as the Addams Family and Munsters theme songs – influences the sounds. Whereas ‘Magnifique’ is a celebration of beautiful losers and how it’s their time to shine.
The end result is an album that radiates a potent sense of vibrancy, endlessly entrapping the listener in its seamless melodies, immersive harmonies and unshakable grooves. A French language record influenced by obscure horror films and unhappy love affairs may not sound like a joyous and life-affirming record but the charm and skill of Juniore is taking something specific, niche, personal and unique and making it universal, something for which language no barrier. For Anna-Jean, this idea of connecting people through the music is what drives the band and this record. “We hope this album will give us a chance to meet more people, see more countries and to ultimately spread the love.”