Friday, September 29, 2006

Electronica for the masses

I recently picked up some new-ish albums I've been seriously aching to give a proper listen. That is, the latest by James Figurine (Mistake, Mistake, Mistake, Mistake) and Junior Boys (So This Is Goodbye). I normally wouldn't lump these into a single post, but I had similar feelings about the two records, so this is what you get. Suck it, Trebek!

I bought both albums on the strength of fantastic singles. James Figurine's "Apologies" struck me as an alien version of the intimate confessionals put forth by his better known project, The Postal Service. But where that band crafted tight pop songs, James Figurine allows his songs to develop and evolve at a more leisurely pace. The instrumentation on the album, however, is much sharper and a little uglier than most of The Postal Service's Give Up. That's not a criticism, just an observation.

What annoyed me about Mistake is that these truly gorgeous numbers are squeezed into an album that's not good enough for them. For every brilliant "Apologies" on the album (there are several), there is a much less interesting track to drag things down and they're usually the instrumentals. James Tamborello doesn't exactly have the most confident voice in electronica, but it's the one human element in a digital sea on this album. It's that sense of optimistic loneliness he evokes that makes me love this album in its best moments. I just wish there were more of them.

I said I was also going to write about Junior Boys, didn't I? The Canadian duo recently released So This Is Goodbye, a follow-up to 2004's Last Exit. My interest was piqued upon hearing the urgent stomp of "In the Morning" and then the very Depeche Mode-esque "Count Souvenirs." Even moreso than Mistake, however, I found the rest of the album to be a little spotty and inconsistent. There's just too much meandering on the other songs for my tastes with not enough else going on to keep me interested.

I don't regret either purchase, but neither lives up the promise of its best songs. These go in the "good, but not great" category as I wait for their next releases. What can I say... My glass is always half full.

[mp3] James Figurine - 55566688833
[mp3] Junior Boys - Count Souvenirs

* Buy Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake
* Buy So This is Goodbye

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