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Junior Boys - Dead Horse

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Artist: Junior Boys

Album: Dead Horse

Label: Domino

Review date: May. 2, 2007


Is a victory lap still triumphant if completed while being carried on the shoulders of others? Considering the muscle that lugs Dead Horse along, I think so. Ditching the hiccuping splices and crunchy stutter of their much-lauded debut, Last Exit, Jeremy Greenspan's Junior Boys offered a suave, streamlined upgrade of their heartbroken pop with last year's terrific So This Is Goodbye. Five of the album's ten tracks are here disassembled by an expert cadre of mixboard scientists each of whom reconfigure Greenspan's bedhead minimalism in their likeness.

Arguably the most kindred of Dead Horse's digital spirits, Hot Chip helm an expansion of Goodbye highlight "In the Morning" that is equal parts deep sulk and goose-pimpled electricity. After two minutes of teasing with a clipped thump punctuated by clapping shutter snaps, the song's original balmy synths and stroboscopic arpeggio, the latter transformed here into an amorphous effervescence, allow a cooling idle. Tambourines tingle and the Chip boys layer wordless, bittersweet refrains. John Goddard's baritone gets the only lines. He repeats "I'll never love again / until you say I can," a sad-eyed mantra which, like a double-exposure, superimposes self-doubt and loneliness on not only the remix's blissful propulsion but also the swagger and zest of Greenspan's original first verse, which Hot Chip here leave intact. It begins "Girl the night's not over/ We're not getting older / They can chase forever." A slippery strand of errant oscillation bends, squeals, tangles and sizzles in an unbroken trajectory as the track blasts into asteroid-dodging orbit. At its ecstatic peaks, Hot Chip make "In the Morning" the song of the year, again. Thankfully, the remainder Dead Horse maintains the momentum.

Tensnake transforms "FM" from album-closing swoon into a delirious gush of cosmic disco. Carl Craig strips away "Like a Child" to the metallic pulse of muffled internal combustion with a tinted windshield, gray and silver splashes dribbling down its non-stick coating, reflecting random activity. Kode 9 swathes "Double Shadow, a none-more-dubsteb title if there ever was one in the Junior Boys songbook, in his distinctively miasmic swirl. Greenspan's dry guitar jags are warped and melted over Kode 9's dolorous wobble as the Spaceape occasionally peers through the fog and intones sinister koans. City Centre Office's Marsen Jules restores the conclusive duties of "FM" by bathing Greenspan's falsetto chorus in reverb and sending it adrift over an ethereal expanse of beatless whirls. Though technically an EP, Dead Horse feels more like a perfectly condensed long-player. At last, the ubiquitous, neutral designation of a "compact disc" is here a positive descriptor.

By Bernardo Rondeau

Other Reviews of Junior Boys

Birthday/Last Exit EP

Last Exit

So This Is Goodbye

Body Language Six

Begone Dull Care

Its All True

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View all articles by Bernardo Rondeau

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