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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Junior Boys
So This Is Goodbye

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 19, 2006
The day has only just begun and already it's going badly for the male paramour of "In The Morning," the breathy, stuttering first single off the Junior Boys' refrigerated electro-pop manifesto, So This Is Goodbye. Told, after begging for a fresh start, that he's "too young" and that she'd "do better/to stick with someone older," he gets unceremoniously dumped. Man, what a kick in the teeth. That's going to be some breakfast: a little coffee, some bacon and eggs, and how about a side of rejection with that? Be sure to leave room for feelings of inadequacy!

Lovers of all things pop, like the Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, almost always do.

Greenspan sees an upside to the timing of the break-up. Ever helpful, Greenspan, he of the air-conditioned vocals that permeate throughout So This Is Goodbye, whispers, "In the morning, there's a million names to choose from," implying that there's an opportunity here to reinvent yourself, make some changes, maybe spend a bit more time working on "you" - all within the space of 24 hours. And it's the kind of thing you want to hear when love leaves, words of comfort that fail to fill the growing void in your heart but offer the promise of better times ahead.

Dabbling in musical self-improvement is something Greenspan has been doing since original member, Johnny Dark, left. With Dark's replacement, producer Matt Didemus, in tow, the Junior Boys put out 2004's Last Exit, a deft mix of sophisticated synth-pop, micro-house and Timbaland-style hip-hop, with hints of U.K. garage thrown in for good measure. Bloggers and critics swooned over the post-modern pop tryst, marveling at its synthetic blend of disparate influences and transient melodies. Opting for more fluid movement and even cleaner production, the Junior Boys continue to indulge their transitory longings by moving into the neat, airy 10-song suite that is So This Is Goodbye.

Furnished with seductive melodies, dry beats, translucent tonality and a variety of bouncing electronic arpeggios, So This Is Goodbye is filled with pure synth-pop oxygen. Tanks of the blip-happy "Double Shadow," with its cushioned thump, and the expiring title track, tricked out with minimal, pulsating beats and shadowy electronica, should be prescribed for emphysema patients. Free of impurities, So This Is Goodbye has a clinical, antiseptic quality that can be slightly off-putting and monotonous at first, but its serene grooves, almost hidden subtleties and classic pop song structures have a beauty that seems fleeting at first blush, but never fades. Winsome and achingly lonely, "Like A Child" smacks of Roxy Music and lite jazz, the desire for human touch contained in message-in-a-bottle lyrics. Continuing in this Kraftwerk-meets-Bacharach vein, So This Is Goodbye is peppered with syncopated handclaps and snapping fingers, and it glides along like an empty monorail, picking up the languid flow of "The Equalizer" and rushing softly by the horn-dappled echo chamber that is "Caught In A Wave." But what really takes your breath away is the glazed-over pop dreaminess, digital funk and pillowy percussive blows of "In The Morning," its tight hooks - and bobbing guitar notes - bringing to mind Spoon of all people.

Britt Daniel's influence is minimal, just a passing fancy for Greenspan and Didemus. But it's there, and it's little surprises like "In The Morning" that make So This Is Goodbye one of those albums that grows on you. Doing a Frank Sinatra cover like "When No One Cares" doesn't seem like a wise choice for the Junior Boys, and predictably, their electronic treatment of the Ol' Blue Eyes' standard is dull and drab, with long pauses where nothing happens and precious little action when something does. But, like Sinatra, the Junior Boys have a penchant for creating timeless music, the kind you can live in for years, no matter what the genre.

Coming late in the game, the failure of "When No One Cares" is just a bump in the road. Pay it no mind. So This Is Goodbye is an easy ride from start to finish, combining 80s new wave worship of Scritti Politti or the Pet Shop Boys with more contemporary hymns from the cyber-soul of Jamie Lidell. Let's hope this isn't the last goodbye from the Junior Boys.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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