tremble clef

Monday, June 12, 2006

Junior Boys, "In The Morning"/"The Equalizer" (2006)

There are, for me, two standout tracks on Junior Boys' So This Is Goodbye -- the most interesting electronic album, Hot Chip's -- but I enjoy them for quite different reasons. One is relentlessly unstoppable; the other stops and changes direction. (Actually, a third track, "Count Souvenirs," is also very striking to me, but mostly because I can't stop singing the melody of Depeche Mode's "Strangelove" over the verses.)

The lead single from the album, "In The Morning" (a collaboration with Mouse On Mars' Andi Toma, a fact I state as if it means anything or makes any difference to me) is the most immediate track, and it's remarkably unlike much of the band's output. I didn't really notice this at first, because Jeremy Greenspan's mopey voice is so distinct that any record with his vocals feels like it is at least part of the same spectrum. But "In The Morning" is funkier than any Junior Boys record has been up to this point: with its stuttering beat, arpeggiated synth riff, squelchy acid noises, and a vocal track consisting of sharp huffs and puffs and even some hiccups, the song recalls, weirdly enough, Prince and Michael Jackson (even more specifically: The Jacksons' "State Of Shock").

Although "In The Morning" grooves and struts like nobody's business, Jeremy's voice, the thudding bass and, let's face it, the lack of melodic variation -- which the Boys have turned into a strength, building lots of rhythmic modulations around that melodic stillness -- means that the song retains a kind of gloomy heaviness. As funky as it is, "In The Morning" is never going to be described as light on its feet. "The Equalizer" begins like it wouldn't dream of bucking that trend: the bass is not quite as heavy, but the rhythm is singlemindedly grinding and the ominous squelches are again present. But then: we go into the chorus with a killer chord change, and the effect is that of a dense fog suddenly and miraculously lifting. "Springtime, you're gonna wish that we were friends/Then we talk; you'll never feel so sure again/So now, there'll be no lessons, no more cures/Till you get yours, baby, in the end." Strange how a threat can sound so sweet. That chorus may or may not be a meta comment, but in that moment it does feel like springtime, and I'm so enjoying getting mine.


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