Marquee: Junior Boys
The line on '90s IDM ("intelligent dance music") was that the headphone-friendly sounds of acts like Aphex Twin and Autechre weren't appropriate for, you know, actual dancing.
Junior Boys' soft-spoken electronic pop is a mild-mannered midpoint between those sounds and the club bangers that soundtrack the majority of American dance floors. It's like the sleek, anonymous electronica that blares unobtrusively in faux-glamorous cocktail bars, except it's infused with expert songwriting and Jeremy Greenspan's devastating moans.
2004 debut Last Exit sounded great on an iPod while putting the finishing touches on the college newspaper in the wee hours of the morning. It's hard to imagine busting a move to slow jams like "High Come Down" and "Teach Me How to Fight," but micro-programmed grooves like "Bellona" and "Birthday" were as danceable as they were melancholy.
Follow-up So This Is Goodbye brought the blurry neon wanderlust into focus, the experimental edge streamlined into relatively straightforward singles that still managed to cull emotional catharsis from bleeps, bloops and breathy vocals.
Junior Boys play Skully's next Wednesday to promote their third album, Begone Dull Care. It doesn't measure up to the first two, but its consistency and quality suggest the group will be able to mine gold from whispery heartbreak funk indefinitely. Highlight "Bits and Pieces" is self-cannibalistic but solid, while curveball "Dull to Pause" provides assurance that Junior Boys can evolve if their sound ceases to satisfy.
Read more about Wednesday's excellent opening act Max Tundra at the Sensory Overload blog on the day of the show.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 29
Where: Skully's, Short North