Somehow the ghost of Billy Mackenzie hangs over this release. Wild And Lonely must have been a template for their sound.
Junior Boys – Last Exit
Ah, the Junior Boys... I loved their LP So This is Goodbye, so the sight of another Junior Boys CD is exciting to say the least. Except this, of course, is their first LP... Last Exit is being re-released on Domino as a one disc package (replete with remixes); a release in its original incarnation that pre-dated Incendiary Magazine as you know it and hopefully love it.
It's funny to review an LP that pre-dated a release we reviewed not that long ago, so to speak. What is noticeable is the way Junior Boys were wearing their influences much more on their sleeve on Last Exit than on So This Is Goodbye.
Opener starts off as if it's a Jean Michelle Jarre sample. Very soon the gentle vocals, (possibly their trademark) start to pull the disparate noises together into their unique blend of romantic dance pop. They are experts at changing pace and tone, and linking these changes with a heart stopping lyric or phrase. It's incredibly reminiscent of the Blue Nile in their pomp, and there's really no point about banging on about the links with Green Gartside's muse. Somehow the ghost of Billy Mackenzie hangs over this release. Wild And Lonely must have been a template for their sound. Listen to Three Words and Teach Me How to Fight for proof.
Last Exit is much quieter in tone than So This Is Goodbye... Bellona is akin to a nagging answer-phone message albeit with a beautiful keyboard overlay that begins to funk out near the end. Bellona's reflective, fractured theme is carried over to High Come Down, whereas title track Last Exit could be a Paul Buchanan song. Neon Rider is a Kraftwerkian interlude before the intensely romantic Birthday kicks in. At last there are some thumping, Low Life keyboards. Things never take off too far though until Under the Sun, which is as close to a gothic dance drama as Junior Boys are got on this LP.
The remixes are fun; Last Exit Fennesz remix is a veritable mash-up of an already fractured piece of music. The great thing is that it is loud and annoying at times, reminding me of the collages Coldcut used to make back in the day. Birthday Manitoba Mix is again more disparate and loud, sometimes invigorating the quiet reflection of the original with a Teutonic vigour.
So, in conclusion? Last Exit is very, very good, but not as good as their follow up.
Words: Richard Foster