Despite their well-connected status in the pop music fraternity, Zoot Woman proved with their eponymous second album that there was substance beneath the style. This was a world where slick, danceable synth-pop tunes met with darker undertones and introspection. Since that time though, Canadians Junior Boys have taken emotional synth pop to a whole new level with three largely flawless albums.
‘Just A Friend Of Mine’ and the similarly breathless ‘Lonely By Your Side’ form a satisfactory opening brace of songs. After the thudding rhythms of ‘More Than Ever’, though, the problems begin to unravel. On the surface they recreate the sweat and energy of the dancefloor but there’s little insight to be found underneath.
Even an effort to slow the pace down (‘Take You Higher’) is remarkable for the lack of a hook. ‘Lust Forever’ may shimmer and shudder attractively yet what is clearly missing is anything nearly as good as ‘It’s Automatic’ or ‘Grey Day’, their fine, romantically-fuelled singles from the earlier part of their career. ‘Blue Sea’ comes closest but it’s simplistic, lovelorn imagery does sound rather like a lukewarm Junior Boys.
The failings of ‘Things Are What They Are Used To Be’ are unlikely to cause core duo Adam Blake and Stuart Price any sleepless nights, since they are more well known for their remix work. However, after the triumph of their last album, it’s a shame they couldn’t have applied themselves better on their own band’s next step.
Junior Boys, Nite Club