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Ontario electronic pop duo Junior Boys weren’t exactly wild-eyed lunatics on previous releases, but at least there was a propulsive energy in the more dance-oriented tracks on 2004’s Last Exit and 2006’s So This Is Goodbye. That’s gone on Begone Dull Care, the group’s latest album. Deprived of the thrill and utility of dance-floor beats, the listener is left to focus more intently on melody and composition of the songs. At least half of the songs on Begone Dull Care survive this heightened scrutiny. “Parallel Lines,” with its Yello-esque vocal manipulations and glacial synths, is a strong opener. Breathy vocalist Jeremy Greenspan betrays no emotion as he sings of deprivation, “No lights/No show/No sex/That’s all you get.” The subdued songs allow for musical inspirations to be more apparent. “Work” is sehr Kraftwerkisch. Parts of “Bits and Pieces” sound like old New Order. It doesn’t hurt that the most chilled-out song, “Dull to Pause,” is one of the best. Over lively keyboards, Greenspan actually sounds optimistic, not detached. It’s possible that the sexier, poppier back-catalog tracks in Junior Boys’ live show may benefit from the tranquil new songs—it’s certainly a more desirable scenario than the concertgoer being as bored as Greenspan often sounds on Begone Dull Care.
JUNIOR BOYS PERFORM WITH MAX TUNDRA TUESDAY, May 5, AT 8 P.M. AT THE BLACK CAT, 1811 14TH ST. NW. $15. (202) 667-4490.