Five years later, Junior Boys return. It certainly doesn't feel like that long. The curious thing about Junior Boys has always been that they somehow never seem to raise expectations about their next record. Maybe that's because they are Canadian. Maybe it's because each record so far has been self-contained (and each, by the way, has also been pretty wonderful). The sense I get from all of them, including the brand-new one, "Big Black Coat", is that they don't put expectations on themselves: an album comes along when it's good and ready. Now's, as they say, the time.
What strikes me already about this new album is how much, and how successfully, it draws on the 1980s. A number of times over its duration I think to myself, if Human League made "Dare" in 2016 it would sound like this. (I'm sure others will wax lyrical about how they have added elements of this or that up-to-the-second dance music micro-sub-genre to the mix. Glued to the past, me.)
What also strikes me is the inclusion, in a couple of crucial places (e.g. the 2:18 mark on "Over It"), of guitar (and even, I swear, a one-off appearance of an authentic electric-bass "doink", a la Kraftwerk's "Tour de France" single, and just as surprising).
The other thing about this particular song? The boom-chuck-boom-chuck drum pattern. Two seconds of this song and you are transported straight into the black heart of "Dancing In The Dark", or "Flashdance" (or even the Oils' "Power And The Passion"), or any number of other hits from the early-to-mid-'80s. In some hands that would spell an early death. Junior Boys, as is their wont, get away with it.