Rhythm & Views

Junior Boys

There's something mildly comforting about the remedial synth-pop of the Junior Boys' second CD. The retro bleeps and beeps pay tribute to the days of Kraftwerk, early Human League and later Ultravox.

Following their impressive debut album, Last Exit, the Canadian duo of Johnny Dark and Jeremy Greenspan do a sweet job of exploring minimalist electronic pop, easing into coolly arch melodies, such as those on "In the Morning" and the album's title track. The effect isn't far from those of the Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell, sometimes making for dappled watercolor washes of sound, as on the hypnotic opener "Double Shadow."

We should be grateful that the Junior Boys refrain from pointing their version of electronica in the directions of more contemporary styles such as trip-hop and drum 'n' bass, which are played by enough artists. Even better, they avoid flash-in-the-pan British musical trends such as grime, two-step and garage, some of which Dark and Greenspan have practiced themselves.

Listening to this disc, you'll feel hip and classic. It may also send some folks back to their days as sharp-dressed metrosexuals cruising the club scene in the wee hours high on amyl nitrate. For this middle-age listener, though, the glacial rhythms are the perfect accompaniment for driving a little too fast on Aviation Parkway to work at 7 a.m. This CD is like the cool morning wind, blowing in the driver's window--gentle and refreshing.

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