In order to label It’s All True, the latest from Junior Boys, a return to form, it necessarily implies that their previous effort was a departure. But 2009’s Begone Dull Care didn’t suffer for being overly ambitious nor for straying from some core virtues that defined Junior Boys previous work. In fact, Begone Dull Care wasn’t a dud — it just lacked any real standouts.
That’s not a problem on It’s All True, because It’s All True has “Banana Ripple” for a closer. Nine minutes of memorable melodies, squiggly synths, taut guitars, and wild overlapping vocals will go a long way to helping you forget that Junior Boys were ever in a rut. And while the rest of It’s All True doesn’t meet the level of “Banana Ripple,” it’s a worthy outing from the Canadian duo nonetheless.
One of Junior Boys most consistent strengths is their ability to convey genuine warmth through an icy, synthetic exterior. That asset gives the beginning of It’s All True a considerable boost. “Itchy Fingers” gives the record a kinetic kick, twisting Junior Boys typically austere usage of instrumental space to hyperactive new heights. Just as impressively, Junior Boys manage to completely switch speeds for “Playtime” without making the change awkward. As a second track, “Playtime” is daringly slow, a moody and intoxicating dose of bedroom soul, delivered with just the right amount of patience.
In fact, with the exception of “Itchy Fingers” and “Banana Ripple,” It’s All True works best when Junior Boys keep things light. Tracks like “You’ll Improve Me” and “Second Chance” stay fleet-footed by keeping the instrumentation relatively pared back, and are all the more effective for it. “The Reservoir” may be a ballad, but all of the effervescent synths glittering around the vocals give the song a serious presence.
So It’s All True is certainly an improvement over Begone Dull Care. There may be little here that meets the level of “Banana Ripple,” but it seems a bit unfair to compare most of the album to its most ambitious and enjoyable song. Junior Boys may not be pushing themselves too far outside of their comfort zone, but for now, it’s nice to hear them doing what they know so well.