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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care (Domino)

Almost every song by Canada’s Junior Boys is built around the same simple formula. Switch on an arpeggiated synth, loop in some drums, add some palm-muted guitar and bring it all together with a bit of vocal fluff about love and loss sung through a stack of reverb loaded plugins. Their debut, Last Exit, stuck to this formula almost to the letter, but they managed to get away with it thanks to its relative novelty and some catchy pop hooks. They then branched out to excellent effect on their sophomore effort, So This is Goodbye, but rather than attempt to diversify their sound, or to build on the advances in melody and song-craft made on that album, their latest work, Begone Dull Care, feels more like a step back towards the basic formula that I outlined earlier. Furthermore, the songs on Begone don’t manage to hit the same melodic heights that were achieved on Goodbye, which featured the catchy-as-fuck ‘In the Morning’, and a trio of stunning electro-winter ballads (‘Like a Child’, ‘FM’ and ‘Count Souvenirs’).

Sadly, Begone’s songs rarely manage to get out of the languid, mid-tempo beat rate that the Junior Boys seem to have decided is their natural state of sonic equilibrium. The closest Begone comes to getting interesting is probably on ‘Work.’ Once all its synthesised elements have meshed together, singer Greenspan decides to make the effort to warm himself out of his glassy frostbreath state for just long enough to produce a moment of sex-charged swagger, declaring “Work it baby / Work it” in a manner that vaguely recalls his delivery on ‘In The Morning.’ Unfortunately, ‘Work’ falls short, because the Junior Boys never manage to deliver a payoff comparable to the REACH-FOR-THE-LASERS-BITCH synth bleep that helped turn ‘In The Morning’ into a club-floor-classic. Having listened to Begone a few times I can’t help but think that the Junior Boys are stuck between a rock and a cold place. Simply put, none of the tracks are propulsive enough to really make me want to dance, and their attempts at balladry are never affecting enough for me to want to care. They could do a lot worse than seek inspiration from their more dynamic compatriots Faunts, whose stunning new album, Feel.Love.Thinking.Of., keeps sounding better and better the more the temperature of my bedroom drops. Then again, they might run the risk of sounding like copycats, and that wouldn’t be very cool now, would it?

Conundrum!

[ssba]

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