Junior Boys

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Last Exit (2004), 6/10
So This Is Goodbye (2006), 6.5/10
Begone Dull Care (2009), 5/10
It's All True (2011), 6/10

Junior Boys is the dance-music project of Ontario-based vocalist/keyboardist Jeremy Greenspan.

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 Wire. 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 ballad-like languor (Sneak a Picture) and almost-ambient tranquillity (Parallel Lines, 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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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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