Junior Boys created only a minor stir with their debut, Last Exit, perhaps because its muted sound and supple rhythms weren't as attention-grabbing as the more jagged, rowdy, guitar-based dance bands that dominated the scene two years ago. Nevertheless, the Canadian techno-pop duo hasn't revamped much on album number two, So This Is Goodbye. Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus hold to a style that's danceable but purposefully dry, drawing on the power of electronics to pump steady and never flag. Tracks like So This Is Goodbye's opener, "Double Shadow," have an art-disco sheen and flashes of Chic guitar, but all the sonic elements weaving in and out don't make the end product any warmer. These songs are complicated robots.
But while the slow-swinging, sorrowful "Count Souvenirs" sounds like the kind of music a Miami Vice drug dealer would listen to in his underfurnished beachfront mansion, and while "Caught In A Wave" features synthesizers that sound like faltering tractor beams, Junior Boys' emphasis on the aloof and mechanical doesn't diminish their feeling for how humans relate to technology. There's a sexiness to songs like "First Time," with its whip-clap beat and bubbly synths, and a sweetness to the conciliatory "Like A Child." The precision and perfection reflects human aspiration—a striving to be better. That's why So This Is Goodbye isn't really built for hot clubs, flashing lights, and moments of uncontrollable passion. It's designed be heard on the way home at 2 a.m., when the hard beats have faded to a dull echo in the ears, and the sweat begins to cool.