Album Reviews

Album Review: Junior Boys – It’s All True (Domino)

By | Published on Thursday 23 June 2011

Junior Boys

Junior Boys probably doomed themselves to a career of diminishing returns by releasing 2004’s ‘Last Exit’, a debut album so deceivingly self-assured that it’s heartbroken percussive pitter patter and solemn synthesized melodies still sound retro-futuristic today.

Recorded with the downsized line-up of Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus, original member Johnny Dark having quit the group, the follow up ‘So This Is Goodbye’ was a backwards step, even if it did show the group at their most atmospheric and, oddly, though occasionally, joyful. And by the time we got to ‘Begone Dull Care’ (2009) I found himself wondering where the good times went.

‘It’s All True’ doesn’t answer that question, at least not conclusively. Even the most obviously dance-orientated tracks, like lead single ‘Banana Ripple’, bring out the melancholy side to clubland’s pill-popping, jaw-clenching Dionysian fantasies. Though possessing the kind of shimmering, staccato keyboard stabs that have underpinned vast swathes of house and techno, the song’s bonhomie is hampered by the trying-too-hard-to-be-pining nature of Greenspan’s vocals.

The main problem with ‘It’s All True’ is that the feeling of archness (the kind of archness that haunted the first few Hot Chip records) and smugness (the feeling of clever-clever 80s revivalism) is all-pervading. So, the life, seemingly, has been sucked out of the duo. It’s a genuine shame, because the more positive moments (‘A Truly Happy Ending’, ‘Kick the Can’) show Junior Boys to still be capable of producing worthy, intelligent fare. JAB.

Physical release: 20 Jun