What an inspired partnership Junior Boys are. Whilst Matthew Didemus crafts minimalist electronic/dance backdrops, frontman Jeremy Greenspan brings an incredibly human touch to proceedings with his tender vocals. Despite ‘Begone Dull Care’ being recorded by men who live so far apart (Didemus in Berlin, Greenspan in Hamilton, Canada), the two boys together make the kind of love songs it’s OK to like.
‘Parallel Lines’ seems to have emerged from relatively colder climes but as soon as Greenspan’s whispered soul vocal makes itself known, we’re headed for reassuringly romantic territory. As ever, it’s all in the little details; ‘Work’ is built on modern beats and the kind of subtle synth melodies that Depeche Mode were using for their album ‘A Broken Frame’; at once it sounds like the loneliest ever dance record. ‘Hazel’ is this album’s ‘In The Morning’ with squiggly electronica breaks and Greenspan’s melancholic ache making it an obvious choice for a single. Demonstrating their softer side, classy soul number ‘Sneak A Picture’ is the requisite last dance track and ‘What It’s For’ is a beautiful way to end the record.
Alas, ‘Begone Dull Care’ is by no means perfect. Early Depeche Mode appear to be an influence again for the vocal harmonies on ‘Bits & Pieces’ although the song is a rare disappointment for the band with very little else to distinguish it above the level of servicable synth-pop. Likewise, ‘Dull To Pause’ and ‘The Animator’ possess plenty of warmth but lack the invention.
The chief criticisms of ‘Begone Dull Care’ are basically, that amongst its eight tracks, a few of them are unremarkable. Yet considering their two records were near fautless, I’m merely quibbling here and there will be few more accomplished records out this year.
Depeche Mode, Richard Davis