A fair sense of anticipation is likely to occur merely from sneaking a peek at the sleeve accompanying this debut album from Oxford project, Jonquil. The promise of instrumentation covering ‘singing bowl’, ‘bouzouki’, and ‘clock’, amongst a host of better known but surprisingly varied suspects certainly suggests we’re in for an interesting ride.

Jonquil are more likely to creep up on you unnoticed than shout for your attention, the quiet ones of the crowd who just happen to make the largest impact. Pinning them down to a genre would be foolish, but Sunny Casinos is folksy and acoustic, with glimpses of Broken Social Scene (on the captivating ‘Rings’, complete with tuning fork and vocals from Lina Simon reminiscent of BSS’s Feist) and the depth and intensity of Youth Movie Soundtrack Strategies. The latter comes as no surprise, Jonquil’s ringleader, Hugo Manuel, is an occasional piano player for his fellow Oxfordians.

Sunny Casinos’ secret weapon takes shape in its apparent simplicity. It is quiet yet compelling, more complex than it initially appears, like the voice on the largely instrumental ‘Too Late’ that is only evident upon close listening; an eerie vocal from Manuel that ranges from quiet speech to frantic cry, lost amidst the layers of insistent guitar that bind the track. Album highlight ‘Square Rigger’ features a building energy and quickening pace that falters and collapses into itself, and once again vocals take a backseat to beguiling melodies.


- Hannah Bayfield




"Sunny Casinos"

1. Avignon
2. There is no Ian Bridgwater
3. Alhambra
4. You're Not My Mind
5. Too Late
6. Square Rigger
7. Sunny Casinos
8. Tracing
9. Woodstock
10. Full of Grace's Bitterness

CD album in gatefold sleeve
1st 45 copies came in a hessian sleeve