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Junior Boys - Birthday/Last Exit EP

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Artist: Junior Boys

Album: Birthday/Last Exit EP

Label: KIN

Review date: Nov. 12, 2003

Emerging from beneath the Maple Leaf, Canada’s Junior Boys have produced one of this year’s most exquisite electronic pop releases. After numerous rejections and near misses from near-sighted record labels had reduced head boy Jeremy Greenspan to confining his genius to the bedroom (no sniggering at the back) he has, with the invaluable assistance of engineer Matt Didemus and the people at KIN, been given a chance to share his wonderful creations with a hungry world. The two lead tracks “Birthday” and “Last Exit” showcase their stuttering, cascading rhythms and glitches, whilst simple keyboard melodies combine beautifully with Greenspan’s softly whispered, heartfelt vocals, lavishing themselves upon the world’s dancefloors. If one of these tracks was dropped at an ’80s nostalgia night, it would easily pass as some newly discovered New Order or Pet Shops jewel, culled from the infamous lost sessions where Arto Lindsay took on lead vocals. Junior Boys have managed to achieve that rare thing – music that is aesthetically pleasing and yet intellectually engaging – proving themselves undaunted by the alienating techniques of the avant-garde, whilst displaying an ear for a damn catchy pop song. Rare indeed.

Each of the original lead tracks is partnered by a re-construction/deconstruction. The first of these, “Unbirthday”, is all instrumental snap, crackle and pop which recalls Pole’s finest tech-dub creations, leaving intact only the faintest ghost of the original. The track shuffles along before introducing the glacial synth signature from its namesake, only to dissolve again into the ether. Very nice.

A Christian Fennesz remix of “Last Exit” revisits the territory previously explored on the Viennese sound sculptor own glitch-opus, Endless Summer, compressing the delicate melodies of the original into brilliant new shapes through echoes and distortion. Whereas the vocals of “Last Exit” had once provided warmth and humanity, they now create a feeling of detachment and isolation. A wonderful, if slightly troubling finale, to a collection of stunning, sassy spectral pop.

By Spencer Grady

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