Sunday, 6 April 2008

Junkboy - Three

This is a collection of lush and endless immersion in different sections of the muso's brain - experimental jazz, prog, electronic, mono, pastoral lo-fi, folkcore - if such a word exists. 'Three', the third album from Southend-on-Sea collective Junkboy, reads like a checklist of everything that's unpopular, inaccessible, and indirect. The result of this is a mish-mash of background fuzz, which due to convention and something even more intrinsic, can’'t ever be much more than that. But why? With more beats, 'There Is Light' would be as infectious as Hot Chip in its harping on a chord, floating around it, and subsequent skating on its grave - if it ever stepped out of itself. With more offerings like the dirty, self-contained 'Seconds', the album would sit more happily between Wolf Parade and Smog. And with a tad more footing – yes, an unusual request – Junkboy would situate themselves in a place more homely, and less sporadic. The superseding theme is that of the post-rocker - the shoegazer stuck in their inward logic. This in itself isn't a bad thing, more the fact of an opportunity lost in more places than gained. 'Volcano Mono' works in parts, but at 8:38 long doesn't have the same power of engagement as Neutral Milk Hotel's longer expositions. Moments like 'Red Firecracker' seem inconsistent with how underdeveloped and downplayed the rest of the album sounds on first hearing - looked at individually, the songs are mighty fine. It's doubtful that Junkboy want to infiltrate the mainstream, and the obsessives will mostly love this. It's as far away from the gormless immediacy of the masses as is physically possible, and for that alone it warrants praise. It also entirely lacks the pretension of anything usually inflicted with the 'post-' prefix. All in all, it's well worth repeated listens so long as you're in the right place.

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