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Sunday, August 12, 2007

 

ModMusic: Junior Senior

Two years ago, when Junior Senior's debut CD, D-D-Don't Stop The Beat, made such a big international splash on dance floors and music blogs, I came rather half-heartedly late to the party. Sure, "Move Your Feet" was adorably retro, what with the video game bleeps and the chunky synthesizers. But the album as a whole was pretty twee, as insincere and plasticized as silly putty. It was everything that critics of dance music complain about -- insubstantial, unambitious, and more than a little hokey.

So how surprised am I that Hey Hey My My Yo Yo, their follow-up disc out next week, is one of the most enjoyable recordings of 2007? Pretty damn surprised. It's not that they suddenly evolved into New Order or Mark Ronson...far from it. But if they gave out awards for "most improved" at the Grammys, Junior Senior would definitely be nominated. The changes, in large part, are subtle; now underneath the retro sounds are layered instrumental arrangements, a more authentically wry humor validating their cheese-filled spirits. Perhaps Junior Senior realized that to be more than a novelty act footnote, they needed to drop the shtick and play some music.

To be fair, there are some remnants of Junior Senior's earlier, less interesting selves scattered across Hey Hey My My Yo Yo. "Itch U Can't Skratch" is as amateurish as you might imagine from that title, and an accompanying EP on the special-edition set offers little excitement. But when they hit the high points, the duo is undeniably entertaining. Many of the best moments are found in collaborations -- Le Tigre sing backup on the sassy "We R The Handclaps", while the legendary women of The B-52's, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, burn the tin roof off the love shack with "Take My Time". It may not be the best record of the year, but it's certainly worth a spin before summer ends.

Watch The Videos:
"Take My Time", Junior Senior
"Can I Get Get Get", Junior Senior
"Move Your Feet", Junior Senior
Download:
"Take My Time", Junior Senior featuring Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson
"We R The Handclaps", Junior Senior (backing vocals: Le Tigre)
Visit: Official Site, MySpace
Then Pre-Order: Hey Hey My My Yo Yo, Junior Senior

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