I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the Opus bylaws, there exists a clause that says something to the effect that if an album is described as “oh-so-pretty shoegaze Cure worship,” then I’m contractually obligated to drop whatever I’m doing and check it out. So when Lars Gotrich used that phrase to describe the latest album from Moscow’s Джуна, well, you know what I had to do.
Тюрьма roughly translates into Prison, which — by the way — seems like a rather appropriate title for an album recorded during a global pandemic quarantine. And, as you might expect from an album of “Cure worship,” Тюрьма is chock full of chiming, spidery guitars paired with a driving rhythm section that walks the line between sinister and dance-y (see “Мне не страшно” and “Вместо снега,” with its lovely use of harmonics).
As for the shoegaze side of the band’s aesthetic, that makes its presence felt the most on “Там, где горела весна,” during which the band unleashes a nice, ear-cleaning assault of guitar noise. Meanwhile, the lead singer — whose name I’ve been unable to find due to the language barrier (almost everything about the band is in Russian) — has a voice that can effortlessly glide between sensual, provocative, ominous, and dreamy within the same song.
I’m always struck by the universality of the shoegaze genre as it spreads around the world, from England to the States to Japan to South America. And thanks to artists like Pinkshinyultrablast, Life on Venus, Your Friends Polymers, and now Джуна, it’s clear that the genre has found plenty of fertile ground in Russia. Furthermore, given Джуна’s productivity — they’ve released four EPs since their formation in 2017 — I expect to hear plenty more of their “shoegaze Cure worship” in the coming years, regardless of any obligations (contractual or otherwise).