On Junior Boys '2004 debut, Last Exit, wordsmith Jeremy Greenspan murmured, mumbled and falsetto-whispered his lovelorn lyrics. His partners, Matt Didemus and Johnny Dark, buried him in the mix beneath shards of post-punk guitar and walls of alienated-cool synthesizers and beats equally inspired by Euro-minimal techno, Timbaland, 2-step garage and fond memories of new wave. But by 2006's So This Is Goodbye, with Dark departed, Greenspan began to croon for real, and while the result enchanted many, others found it overwrought. Fortunately on Begone Dull Care, Greenspan is understating things again. His lack of affect serves mostly to underpin his sincerity: if he'd pushed the vocal harder on "The Animator," for instance, lines like, "There's a tremor in my lips/And an itching in my eyes/It's all 'cause of you," wouldn't come across nearly as effectively.
Yet Begone Dull Care is hard to imagine without its direct predecessor: it's as much an extension (and improvement) of Goodbye as it is a son of Last Exit. Didemus's production is sweet (and more obviously new wave-y), but it's also nearly as toned as the debut; there are few dead spots, even though the songs average nearly six minutes. And the tone is different, too: more confident, less worried. It's still lovelorn at times, but tracks like "Sneak a Picture" glide by hips-first, and the chorus of "Bits & Pieces" is not shy: "I see you move/I see you better when the lights are out," Greenspan croons. "Practice is over." Sounds like it.