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Junior Boys - It's all true


Junior Boys, a Canadian indie elecronic pop duo of Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus, has evolved steadily over the past eight years. Their first studio album, Last Exit (2004), successfully married indie pop melodies and whispery vocals with syncopated, R&B-influenced and complex drum programming. Over the past years, however, they have discarded the Timbaland-style beats in favor of a more intimate, less frenetic, and more delicate style that pays homage to the pantheon of electronic pop, referencing such acts as Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, and New Order. Their fourth and most recent studio album,It’s All True, in some ways represents a culmination of this shift. Still, the album as a whole has mixed success, weaving between pleasant upbeat tracks and lacklustre ballads.

The album’s best tracks are also the most upbeat. It’s here that they really excel as producers and singer-songwriters. Further, they make best use of Jeremy Greenspan’s vocals, which are much better suited to up-tempo music. “Itchy Fingers,” with its playful synths and infectious drum programming, creates a buoyant sonic mood that Junior Boys fans should find familiar. “A Truly Happy Ending” is another jubilant track that pays homage to electronic pop from a few decades ago. For some reason, it never fails to bring to mind Welsh pop artist Howard Jones’s early 1980s song, “What is Love” (which is interesting because they sound little alike). The truly catchy “Second Chance” combines Greenspan’s restrained, whispery vocals with a pulsing background that features bouncy bass lines and creamy synths. And although both “You’ll Improve Me” and “Banana Ripple” start off slow and somewhat flat, by the end both tracks build into bouncy, groovy choruses. With “Banana Ripple,” the closing track, Junior Boys put a smile back on my face and made my head bob in pleasure.

The album’s slower tempo tracks, however, are somewhat forgettable. “Playtime” is a minimalist, slow-burning track that never really gets going, its breathy vocals, while perfect for the up-tempo tracks, do not fit this ballad style—at times they sound more whiney than moving. Moreover, “The Reservoir” and “ep” are rather mediocre, especially when compared to the album’s better tracks.  Granted, Greenspan’s falsetto in “The Reservoir” melds well with the smooth background (especially during the choruses), but as a whole it still feels rather tame. 

It’s All True is an album of mixed quality. At its best, the production and vocals radiate playfulness and generate a gleeful mood. Yet the down-tempo tracks  . Nonetheless, the album’s better tracks lend themselves to repeat listens, and are accessible enough to appeal to a broad audience of electronic and pop music lovers.

Jeremy Yellen

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