Junior Boys is the dance-music project of Ontario-based vocalist/keyboardist
Last Exit (Kin, 2004) entered the revivalist arena with the advantage
of a celestial, twitching synth-pop style that was not quite consistent with
the vintage sound of the 1980s. It was like a languid, anemic synthesis of
New Order and the
The most immediate track was their first 2003 single,
Birthday, and Three Words, but the longer
Last Exit (a subtle interplay of soft beats and whispered melody)
and Under The Sun (a pulsating and almost rock beat with feeble
electronic melodies) attest to a grander design,
which this preliminary album only hinted at.
The most adventurous tracks use electronic devices to upset classical models;
High Come Down sounded like a digital-age remix of Michael Jackson,
More Than Real like a humble version of
disco-punk bands such as Berlin.
This was meditative dance music to be consumed in private.
So This Is Goodbye (Domino, 2006) is another sonic postcard from the
1980s in which nothing looks quite "right". The Junior Boys'
stratagem is to twist the stereotypes so that the elements
sound out of synch with each other, although each is done according to the
rules. Thus the melodies are stately and the electronics is evocative and the
vocals are erotic, but they don't seem to acknowledge each other. This
subliminal game of estrangement and musical alienation scours a sonic territory
halfway between glitch music and synth-pop.
Double Shadow (a lively industrial ballet, by their standards)
and Count Souvenirs (even more robust)
are the new manifestos of
the Junior Boys, now de facto a duo of Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus.
A major improvement consists in much stronger melodic themes, whether the
soul-ish Equalizer or the downtempo First Time or the slow-motion
lullaby When No One Cares.
Except for the neurotic In The Morning (also the most original rhtyhm),
the songs indulge in a
trance-like elegance that exudes a cold strategy of psychological mannerism,
something like Japan meets Talk Talk.
The EP Dead Horse (Domino, 2007) contains some remixes.
Body Language Six (2008) is a mix album.
Begone Dull Care (Domino, 2009) displayed a preference for
(Sneak a Picture)
and almost-ambient tranquillity
Hazel). However, mostly these slow-motion songs seem aimless and
pointless, synthetic muzak for supermarkets.
It all came to fruition in the sophisticated production of
It's All True (Domino, 2011), that continued to capitalize on the revival
of the 1980s that they had spearheaded while channeling an original persona
into the intricacies of the sound, particularly
in the hyper-active Itchy Fingers and Banana Ripple.
Unfortunately half of the album was tedious and disposable just like
Begone Dull Care. What worked was as good as their best, but what
did not work was as bad as their worst.
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