A Very Tasty Flavor of Bubblegum
This review needs to do a lot of things. Let’s list them out.
1. Mention that Junior Senior is a Danish dance-pop duo and that their song “Move Your Feet” has a great surreal video by Shynola that features synchronized toast, cheeky allusions to sex and alcohol, and an evil squirrel who blows up the world. If there is time, mention that my children love “the evil squirrel video”.
2. Educate the reader that the big mustachioed one is gay and the smaller fashionable one is straight, and that they sing about this sometimes, and that that last fact is probably culturally significant somehow. Figure out just exactly how and work that claim like a grizzled old prospector.
3. Discuss Junior Senior’s various obvious influences (if I may be permitted so gauche a word when what they’re really doing is much nobler, actually just plain stealing, styles and riffs and melodic lines and attitudes): the B-52’s, T. Rex, Kool and the Gang, Chic, Iron Butterfly, Bootsy Collins, the Beach Boys, the Beastie Boys, the Isley Brothers, the Everly Brothers, Adam and the Ants, ABC, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Sly Stone, Sweet, James Brown, Toni Basil, Smokey Robinson, Eddie Cochran, Donna Summer, both George Michael solo and Wham!, and Rockwell. Oh, and the Trashmen and Run-DMC and Kraftwerk too. Maybe a few others.
3a. Let slip that “Move Your Feet” shoplifts the string part from ABC’s “The Look of Love”, but that that’s okay because that string line has also been used by Talking Heads on “With Our Love” and by Electric Light Orchestra on “Fire on High”, that song they’re usually playing when that skier dude wipes out going down the mountain and is mysteriously unharmed. Act all superior and snooty for knowing these things, and pretend that pop music should be pure. Understand how dumb you sound saying this. Hide in cardboard box for a fortnight. Come out as a born-again pop lover, and a better person for it.
4. Repeat their own list of heroes, from the song “White Trash”, including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Greenwood, Sonny and Cher, the New York Dolls, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and the Ramones.
4a. Oh yeah, and Senior loves JJ Fad too. This is a major plot point, they repeat it even.
5. Spring the “surprising” revelation that they are basically just the Archies for our generation, a transcendent bubblegum band that works its ass off to make all this stuff look easy. Talk about how this is basically live mash-up, throwing all kinds of music together to see what works, riding the results all the way down, and then moving on quickly.
6. Remember to mention that the best song on the disc is neither the propulsive “Move Your Feet” nor the obligatory self-referential opener “Go Junior, Go Senior”, nor even the sublime “Good Girl, Bad Boy” which is half Cheap Trick and half Flying Lizards and half something else, too. Sigh that, no, those are all very worthy choices, but that “Shake Me Baby”, which is mostly Nashville Skyline-era Dylan except when it erupts into soul-battering guitar shred pitched halfway between Eddie Hazel and Pete Townshend. Yes, that’s the best. But the others are pretty great too.
7. Make sure to give them props for honesty for naming a song “Rhythm Bandits” and bragging about how they jack beats and how they just don’t care. Pre-emptive strike against haters and critics is always an ace move.
8. Whine about how short the album is, even with the remix and the live version of “Move Your Feet”, but then mention that it’s actually kinda perfect, because that’s the way that old albums used to be and that that’s the way the new ones should be too.
9. Realize that you completely disagree with that statement, because you like albums to be way up over 60 or 70 minutes’ worth. Realize that this is not a review of YOU. Back off slowly.
10. Call Junior Senior “a one-two punch” for their vocal interplay. Hate self for this cliché. Get really drunk, wake up on the mayor’s lawn screaming and naked. Vow never to call any co-lead vocalists “a one-two punch” any more times.
11. Remind self that a short album (11 studio tracks, one remix, one live version all coming in under 40 minutes) needs a short review. Start wrapping things up, here.
12. Stutter out some tortured analogy to how these are crazy times and about how we all need to smile a little more, how this song, uh, I mean album, is calculated to do just that, make the whole world smile. Awwwwww.
13. Quote some lyrics, dammit, stuff like “Shake your coconuts / Till the milk comes out” or “Gimme girls girls girls / Gimme boy boy boy boys” or “Bombs we got bombs we got bomb bomb bombs / We got a big bad bag full of dynamite!” Mention how they trade off lines on “Chicks and D*cks” to express their great gay/straight alliance gimmick, but how the song actually means more than just the gimmick, how it’s really about the multifariousness of human experience.
13a. Don’t forget to say that their apparent lyrical simplicity is just there to mask the sophistication of the music or something like that. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or maybe it’s a double fakeout, maybe all the lyrics come together like a huge acrostic, they’re all related, they tell you your future or who killed Tupac or something like that. Write them all out, make many diagrams and charts, draw lines between them.
13b. For example, “Rhythm Bandits” might just be about how they aren’t afraid to steal stuff from other artists—or it might just be a coded map to find some kind of buried treasure! Work on this for an hour or two, find nothing, give up weeping.
14. Wonder what the hell one is thinking about, up at 3 a.m. writing (almost 800 words so far) about a silly Danish dance record. Worry that Junior Senior doesn’t really hold that much water after all. Put album into Discman, turn up volume.
15. Get blown away all over again by the sheer hard-working crowd-pleasing fun of it all. Come to terms with the fact that this is the funnest record of the year, that that is not undifficult, that that is important.
16. Finish review.
17. Go to bed smiling despite one’s crusty critical demeanor.
// Notes from the Road
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