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Junior Boys

Big Black Coat (City Slang)

9/10

  • Stephen Worthy
  • 6 January 2016
Junior Boys

No matter what you do in life, the act of repetition can suck the fun out of anything – even making music.

By 2011, after a succession of albums that stirred together dancefloor nous, pop sensibility and a healthy dollop of melancholy, Junior Boys had reached that point. So Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus decided to take a sabbatical – from each other, at least.

Greenspan hooked up with his pal Dan 'Caribou/Daphni' Snaith for a clutch of well-received EPs on Jiaolong, and produced other artists. Didemus moved to Berlin and started his own label. The enforced absence has made their reunion all the sweeter, both for them and for us. On 'Big Black Coat', they reconnect with each other and the dancefloor. That's not to say it's full of eyes-down techno stompers; Junior Boys are far too subtle and elegant for that. Instead, with 'You Say It' they weld the itchy, frantic footwork of Machinedrum to the glistening R&B that has characterised their previous work.

And on a sparky, grinding reworking of Bobby Caldwell's soul-jazz classic 'What You Won't Do For Love', Greenspan – tongue firmly in cheek – finally turns into the R&B sex god he's always threatened to be. The title track is the purest dancefloor hit, and even then it's a slow-burner – but Junior Boys' knack for polished electro pop remains the golden thread stitching together their material. The ghosts of smart, British 80s pop haunt 'Baby Don't Hurt Me' and 'Over It', with the latter's driving synth soul taking Greenspan's trademark falsetto and twisting it into weird, auto-tuned shapes.

It's these clever details that usher Junior Boys to electronic music's top table; see, also, the shoegazey feedback enveloping the end of 'C'Mon Baby', or the acid house chords that disappear as swiftly as they arrive on 'Baby Give Up On It'. It all adds up to their most rounded, consistently engaging record yet.

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