Breathy Synthpop That Occasionally Approximates Actual Pop


Despite their evident awareness of current dance music and r&b, Junior Boys’ brand of synthpop can’t help sounding rooted in the ’80s, and with Scritti Politti and thePet Shop Boys recently resurfacing to scratch the same itch, there may be no burning need for what Manitobans Jeremy Greenspan and Matthew Didemus do. Which doesn’t mean they don’t do it well. Greenspan’s disembodied vocals don’t always serve his precision-tooled melodies, and So This Is Goodbye tends to float where 2004’s Last Exit skittered, but the duo gets the balance right at least three times. “So This Is Goodbye” acknowledges tendencies both up-to-date (“You’re like a pre-teen/Chasing all the latest news”) and retro (“We fix old radios/Wiping off the dusty tunes”), while the single “In the Morning” comes closest to actually existing pop via toxic breath beats and silky, lined-in guitar. The disc’s conceptual coup is a beat-free cover of “When No One Cares,” a 1959 Sinatra gloomfest rearranged after Prefab Sprout’s “When Love Breaks Down.” Locating the existential core of a Jimmy McHugh–Sammy Cahn chestnut is one thing (it was already there); the moments when Junior Boys invest their own material with comparable emotional heft are more impressive.