So This Is Goodbye
By: Eric Greenwood
In today's gimmicky, instant gratification and overly niche music market, bands that present themselves in vagueness and anti-image often seem married to a sense of bittersweet nostalgia that doesn't have much bite in 2006. However, mystery still has an inexplicable allure, especially when it's cloaked in such sophisticated and streamlined synthetics as what Junior Boys bathe each track in on its phenomenal second album, So This Is Goodbye.
With its striking, unanimously lauded debut, Last Exit, Junior Boys established itself as the thinking man's synth band, excluding the self-deprecating aloofness of The Magnetic Fields. Hooks were neither instant nor easy, allowing the duo to expand upon our preconceived notions of pop's typically narrow scope with layers of syncopated beats and water-ice synthetics. Vocalist Jeremy Greenspan's over-sexed, breathy delivery scooped our expectations for the dry baritone of The Human Leagues, the Depeche Modes, and The Magnetic Fields of the world.
Greenspan's vocals take on an even bigger role now, as original beat stylist Johnny Dark has been replaced by engineer Matthew Didemus. Whereas on Last Exit, Greenspan's voice barely rose above the din of frozen palpitations, he now uses his slightly effeminate cadence to drive the melodies with even more yearning and innuendo. The hooks still develop slowly, segregating the thinkers from the dancers, but even the latter should not be disappointed as beat-driven, driving tracks like "Double Shadow" and "In the Morning" sate both half-hearted and extreme dance tendencies.
The title track is a duplicitous center piece. On the surface its steady beat seems carefree and unfettered, but the eerie synths bubbling underneath mark the sound of a decaying age, while Greenspan mourns effortlessly, "So This Is Goodbye…" It's the most emotionally complex piece on the record, and it showcases Greenspan's total control of his intentions. This is dance music with unquestionable soul.