Local Record Review: 'Junior High' by Junior High

Junior High
Junior High

Eighties throwback albums and songs of all stripes have been swirling around for years now, but when you were actually there, hearing the sound of synth pop duo Junior High garners an even more Pavlovian response (“Oh yeah, this is what pop music always sounds like!”). In that case, the band are getting just the response they were looking for.
Junior High pairs UC Irvine grad student Josh Ottum with his Leucadia-based partner Michael Deakers. Though their name suggests they might be pining for simpler times (it's been a while since either have been in 7th grade), the sound is a very mature take on them music that affected them as kids.

The band's eponymous debut, released next Tuesday, offers a dose of nostalgia coated with candy-colored synths. The album gives a knowing wink to New Wave enthusiasts from the minute you press play. Their lead single “D.O.P.E.,” offer sweet, cool vocals, minimalist beats and riffs galore. With sonic roots firmly planted in electro sounds of the 80s, there's no radical twist from those basic approaches throughout the album.

But the way they've been able to manipulate the basic sounds of their youth, similar to bands like U.S.E., Alphabeat, suggests that Junior High is capable of coming up with their own diverse spin on the genre Their debut record can be both openly giddy (see the wonderful concluding break on “Shuffling the Cards”) and gently melancholic (“Mysterious Heart”). Occasionally, the band throws in gems from different eras in their music. The fact that they named a song “Life Coach” suggests that they still have plenty include some shout outs to 21st century culture. Check the band out at their record release party at the Detroit Bar next Wednesday.

Junior High is released on Tuesday May 22 via iTunes and other outlets. Their video for “PSA” has just been released.

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