Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye

George Bass 18/09/2006

Rating: 4/5

Gordon Bennett - a 9/10 on Pitchfork, four stars at Allmusic, album of the week at Boomkat? It seems Canadian duo Junior Boys have cleaned up to standards that even Kim and Aggie would be proud of, leaving little wonder as to why Domino were so quick to land them for their sophomore release. Cynics might accuse the label of pandering to the indie deserters who got a taste for IDM after prolonged exposure to Hot Chip, hoping to do for funkish electronica what Snakes On A Plane did for YouTube. However, a quick spin shows that this is a rare case where the industry exaggeration rate of 23% doesn't apply. Crying wolf is pointless, especially when you've got an album that sounds like Booka Shade and M83 teaming up to complete GTA Vice City.

Frontman Jeremy Greenspan's voice - which sits snugly somewhere between Dave Gahan and mild laryngitis - gives the ten tracks here a dreamy, nocturnal slant, creating a sound that shimmers like the trim on a Pontiac. Don't panic though, ravers - the music steers neatly clear of shoegazing, and for the most part comes across as saucer-eyed electroheads hijacking vintage Daft Punk. First Time, for example, has all the cheek and keyboards of a John Shuttleworth romance theme, so smooth you can skate on it, whereas Count Souvenirs coasts along on a faraway bassbeat like an idling Vespa, gradually blossoming into a sort of laserharp remix of Enjoy The Silence. Sort of.

In The Morning - presumably making the most of the Razorlight slipstream - is a solid choice for the first single, even though its Roland refrain is tealeaved straight from the opening bars of You Got The Love. It's infectious enough on its own though, slinking along like a robot peacock while Greenspan's lyrics are cemented by what appears to be a professionally choreographed asthma attack. No sooner are you deep into your Napoleon Dynamite shuffle before the Boys gently ease off the gas, with Like A Child spreading some smudged guitar chords over the sound of a lazy fruit machine hitting the jackpot. "We could talk for hours/Till my strength has gone/Though I get so tired/I still get wired". Indeed. If you thought you were heading into comedown territory, secret weapon When No One Cares should put you right with a little help from Ol' Blue Eyes himself. A quivering piano sample drives the song, painting a picture of long-lost cosmonauts picking up archive Sinatra recordings. Greenspan's meek voice is largely unaccompanied, which adds to the cavenous echo of the track and creates something both bleak and achingly beautiful. It might just get you nipping down the charity shop to stock up on Rat Pack LPs - it's that good. After that, final number FM picks up the torch to give the album a truly magical send-off, the big picture melody twinkling with the best of the lyrics ("Then one more year/Becomes one more year/And you'll forget me soon I feel"). Part Ulrich Schnauss heartbreak, part happy-ever-after closing credits, it really is a diamond and should warm the cockles of even the hardest of synthesiser sceptics.

So This Is Goodbye is an incredibly sleek, well-produced album. What might first seem to be a retro keyboard skirmish soon reveals itself as a heartfelt LP that floods through your senses like a hypo of pure nostalgia, helped in no small part by Greenspan's elegantly cinematic lyrics. The only real 'but' that springs to mind is that the overall pace is slightly more slipdisc than breakneck, and consequently it'll probably get more airtime in living rooms than it will in the superclubs (unless Fabric has a secret floor for solo bodypopping, that is). Its twin pinions of hushed vocals and electronica dipped in mercury might not make it a big hit with armwrestlers, but don't let that put you off: it's a hugely enjoyable record, as professional as its glitchier IDM co-stars and more fun than a playground full of spacedust.