Album Reviews

Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye

(Domino) UK release date: 11 September 2006

For a while now there’s been an orthodoxy developing around themusic created in the early 1980s. The commonly held belief is that thepost-punk scratchy funk is where the real innovation took place; thatthe sound of The Gang of Four and The Fire Engines brokenew ground.

Therefore its often claimed that the neon futurists whoproduced the buoyant synth pop of the era are fit only for thenostalgia circuit. Sure there is a certain inventiveness in thosepost-punk bands but its not the whole story.Guitars do notautomatically bestow gravitas or soul and certainly not originality.

The Human League‘s Motown meets the autobahn pop or theelectronic vista of OMD were far more unique and groundbreaking.Thankfully it sounds like Canadian duo Junior Boys share my view. Thisis Goodbye takes those pioneering records and mixes their DNA with thesounds of current club culture.

See this is a perfect kiss from a tainted lover. A dirty epic,genetic engineering, a poison arrow. So This Is Goodbye is full of lyricalspurts and urgent rhythms. A world of scorched hearts and clubwallsdripping with intent. Bass heavy, melancholy and beautiful.Kraftwerk via Salford’s Lads Club. House music with a heart. Anew order, a sign post to the future.

Junior Boys have created an electroplated tank of a record. Aspiky shape shifting mix of sculptured mercury and bruised beats. Byturns tender of reason and striking in sound. Jeremy Greenspan voiceglides across the grooves with the perfect grace of light at dawn.Matthew Didemus has fashioned a series of stark, yearning soundscapes, full of light and space. The room in the backdrops is juxtaposedagainst the stark dense maze of imagery. Greenspan lyrics can shiftfrom clipped impressionist snapshots to spiralling narrative within thesame verse.

If the Scissor Sisters make you put your hands in theair, then Junior Boys make you wear your heart on your sleeve. Onemoment I feel like I am listening to Underworld‘s frantic blastcombined with the Blue Nile‘s slowly evolving elegance, the nextit could be The Pet Shop Boys‘ sailing in the slip stream ofDepeche Mode. I can’t nail down the sound beyond the fact thatit’s breathtaking.

Junior Boys seem to conjure magic from the most basic of sounds.They have stripped away much of the complex rhythms from their previousLP Last Exit. Caught in a Wave unfurls from a static radio tone and ahigh frequency circuit whine via a base line and drum kick that aretighter than Bush and Blair. The rhythm track is so simple, a beat andclick, but so deep and hypnotic. The bass lines are tense andheavyweight throughout. In The Morning welds one to a glittering melodyline and a huge pitch bent synth riff. When No One Cares, takes aFrank Sinatra standard and spins it out into deep space. FMdissolves in fleeting bass notes and a sparkling starlight synthline.

Count Souvenirs is Soft Cell‘s Memorabilia written byDouglas Coupland and remixed by Gene Farris. Double Shadow isthe dub house of Vladislav Delay’s Lumomo project withlyrics replacing the vocal snippets. There is a energy, a desire thatburns through the speakers. This record should be played loud anddigested slowly. I feel love.

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Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye