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Reviews

Junior Boys
It's All True Michael Dix , June 22nd, 2011 13:41

There's a cute story about Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, recounted by the singer himself a couple of years back in an interview to promote the duo's last album Begone Dull Care. Apparently, in his youth Greenspan spent some time living in the UK and managed to bag himself a job at a recording studio by upgrading his CV with falsified claims that he had previously studied the finer arts of music production under legendary egghead Brian Eno. So impressed were the studio owners that they immediately put him in charge of a junior technician who blatantly knew a great deal more about the job than he did. Panicked, Greenspan did what any good bullshitter would do: he let the so-called novice do all the work and then accepted the credit for it.

On the basis of Greenspan's work over the last decade as the more visible half of Canadian synth-pop outfit Junior Boys, it's safe to assume he paid some serious attention that summer. Production values have always been the top of the duo's priority list - from the crunchy R&B beats Greenspan cooked up with original partner Johnny Dark on 2003's debut Last Exit, to the smooth cyber-soul sound of So This Is Goodbye and Begone Dull Care's down-tempo disco - and whilst It's All True, Greenspan and current creative foil Matt Didemus' latest long-player, offers a pretty balanced selection of all those styles, the slick studio magic the pair cast over these nine tracks ensures that the album gels together as cohesively as any of its predecessors.

In typically creative fashion, It's All True’s press release name-checks Orson Welles and Howard Hughes as influences, but any connections are tenuous at best: the album shares its title with Welles' unfinished WWII film, whilst the epic closer 'Banana Ripple' - named after Hughes' favourite ice cream flavour - pays tribute to the legendary film-maker's extravagant eccentricity by using a staggering 170 audio tracks in pursuit of total sensory overload. But as joyously overwhelming as that track is, nothing can compare with the chills of excitement generated by the record’s more subtle moments. The bubbly synth-funk of the ironically-titled 'A Truly Happy Ending', the hyperactively twitching drum patterns that propel 'Itchy Fingers', the slippery techno groove of the instrumental 'Kick The Can', the slowly unfurling and almost unbearably tense 'Ep', the twinkling sci-fi lullaby 'Reservoir'; all notable high points of an impressively filler-free opus.

To be brutally frank, there isn't much here that fans won't have heard before; Greenspan's vocals are stonger than before, but the emotionally bruised cherub persona remains, as do the icy synths and minor-key melodies. But Junior Boys are not a band that need to prove themselves by experimenting. Like a surgeon announcing just before an operation that he feels the need to try something new, there are some things better left alone and Greenspan and Didemus are such masters of their craft that it is a pleasure to just sit back and enjoy them doing what they do best. Like those other notorious perfectionists Steely Dan, every Junior Boys album sounds like a potential 'greatest hits' compilation, and It's All True is no different. A change may be good thing for some, but in this case more of the same is more than enough.

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