Album Review: It's All True - Junior Boys

Junior Boys are one of those few acts where I am frankly just happy for them to stay the same. Their slick take on eighties influenced pop feels like an alternative future where Spandau Ballet ruled the world. Despite this the slight change in direction It's All True represents feel like a definite change for the better.

Sonically this album radiates sunshine. Their most overtly sensual and warm album yet and the result is that things get suspiciously close to Balearic. Married to Johnny Greenspan's as-ever gorgeous vocals this is a very good thing indeed - an irresistible hit of relaxed, dry heat. The songs here vary from being loved up and snappy, as on the punchy rhythms of 'A Truly Happy Ending' to relaxed to the point of apathy. 'Playtime' is a perfect example of the latter - a track that feels like it has been left out in the sun to the point of near-total evaporation. It's almost as though there is nothing left, the crawl to it's conclusion only just about manageable.

Lyrically and emotionally then It's All True is the aural equivalent of the cat Garfield, trapped within a sunbeam that suddenly imparts such a warm feeling of apathy that he can no longer manage the energy needed to move beyond it's grasp. Greenspan sounds overwhelmed by his affections. On opener 'Itch Fingers' he sounds completely aware that his emotions may be being toyed with, yet embraces his feelings anyway. Similarly on 'You'll Improve Me' Greenspan's persistent chorus of "That's the way you'll improve me" is simultaneously cloying and naïve - sounding both like an unwelcome admirer and a victim all at once.

Sunshine and lies run through this album like a seam. The title appears to relate to not just one song but all of them - several making explicit references to truth and lies and the others depicting someone in a state of lying to themselves. It's All True is best when this is combined with warmth and funk however - 'Second Chance' with its tight percussion and bubbling bass line.

Things close with 'Banana Ripple'. I've already mentioned this track in a previous post but it bears highlighting it again - it isn't just the best thing the Junior Boys have ever done, it's probably the best track I've heard all year. 'Banana Ripple' is pure summer sunshine exuberance and it feels like the manifestation of a change in the band - like the straight guy losing fear and taking the dance floor for his own: suddenly they can dance! Huge keyboards, organs and beautiful muted guitar combine with Greenspan's calls: "You'll never see me go...", like he finally wised up and left. And it has that feeling - it's empowered and striking and goosebump inducing.

Call it hyperbole, but in my head this is what the first summer of love sounds like.

BP x

It's All True is released on Domino on 4 July in the UK and 14 June elsewhere, available for pre-order from on CD and LP [affiliate links].