RECORD REVIEW: JUNIOR BOYS – BIG BLACK COAT

RECORD REVIEW: JUNIOR BOYS – BIG BLACK COAT

Junior Boys have always managed to combine distance with intimacy in sound and effect and on their latest offering, the excellent Big Black Coat, this is demonstrable in spades. Whether it’s in their subtle low key style in a musical sense or Jeremy Greenspan’s warm yet delicate vocals, their music never overpowers and never overwhelms. Such songwriting ability is hard to come by, especially in the modus operandi of the electronic genres Junior Boys trade in. Thus, it is with great relief that Matt Didemus and Greenspan decided not to shelve their long collaboration given that this was a possibility during the long hiatus between this and last album, It’s All True.

Opener ‘You Say That’ mines familiar Junior Boys territory sonically with beat and effects used to hasten it’s laconic feel while ‘Over It’ speeds up the tempo with its lasting pop overtones. ‘C’mon Baby’ once again takes things down a notch with its one way conversational intimacy and vulnerability and indeed it is both these sentiments that has always painted the duo’s work with honesty and integrity. You get the feeling that despite his pleas, Greenspan’s intentions were not really reciprocated. A slow disco feel characterises ‘Baby Give Up On It’ – perhaps a reprise to the immediately aforementioned. Style wise, ‘M&P’ is the antithesis to its predecessor without going ballistic on your arse. The contemplative middle track ‘No One’s Business’ almost serves as an interlude cum prelude with its sound levels deliberately set lower that the rest of the record and its two and a half minutes building to merely fade.

The second half begins brightly with the Bobby Caldwell cover ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ setting the scene nicely for the run up to the finish. ‘And It’s Forever’ announces itself immediately with its looped house vocal and dance beat sensibility. But once again here its the contrasts achieved between beat and vocal arrangement that have always set the meticulous duo apart from their contemporaries. ‘Baby Don’t Hurt Me’ once again takes things down several notches with its delicate 70s style one-two beat, its subtle warbled synth and Greenspan’s heartfelt plea. He ventures into choral/castrato like territory at the beginning of the thrilling minimalist Detroit techno experiment ‘Love Is A Fire’. The track serves as a perfect segue into the looms large title track which whetted the appetite so much for this record when it was released late last year.

Over their 12 year life span, Didemus and Greenspan borrowing from an assortment of multifarious genres and styles have carved out their own unique sound and approach, with each album taking on different musical hues and themes. While many see Big Black Coat as a vehicle that brings Junior Boys to the full circle of their 2004 debut Last Exit, I prefer to see it differently. While Last Exit does reflect the restless beat work found here, Big Black Coat is as much its own beast as anything they’ve released before it. Without doubt, the music world is a better place with a Junior Boys presence in it.

James Stocker – February 25, 2016.

 

Big Black Coat

Junior Boys (CAN)
From the album, ‘Big Black Coat’, City Slang

Junior Boys Facebook

Official Video

 

Big Black Coat (Robert Hood Remix)

Junior Boys (CAN)
From the digital single, ‘Big Black Coat (Robert Hood Remix), City Slang.

Audio Stream