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Album Review

As on Junior Electronics' self-titled debut, Musostics makes Joe Watson's connections to Stereolab and High Llamas clear (Watson has played with and/or mixed and engineered works by both groups). Watson's fondness for mischievous yet elegant melodies and arrangements echoes those bands, and an aloof playfulness is something all three acts share. However, on Musostics Junior Electronics gets even more cerebral and high-concept than Watson's contemporaries: these songs are inspired by mesostics, a form of typographical play where a line of intersecting vertical text relating to the body text is created by placing words carefully. These songs do feel like interlocking parts, full of analog buzzing, bubbling, hissing, and ticking, and yet Watson finds range within the album's narrowly prescribed boundaries. The wistful, largely acoustic "Fire Island Sand" sits next to "Geostationary Satellite"'s bouncy, descending melody; "Heads" drifts along with meditations about Napoleon, while "Zero Distress" has enough of a rhythmic backbone to shake a tail feather. In the years between Junior Electronics and Musostics, Watson has developed as a songwriter, capable of inviting tunes like the opening track "Intimations" as well as more remote and theoretical pieces such as "Mike McConnell," which sounds like pop written by and for mainframe computers. Though Watson has a smaller cast of collaborators than on his debut (Imitation Electric Piano bandmate Mary Hampton and drummer Grant Allardyce are among the returning musicians), Musostics is a more satisfying album that proves Junior Electronics can now do even more with less.


Formed: Brighton, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Junior Electronics is the experimental electronic pop project of Brighton, England-based engineer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Watson, who played with the like-minded Imitation Electric Piano and Stereolab. Watson began playing with Stereolab in 2004 and handled engineering duties for the band's final releases, including the singles that became the compilation Fab Four Suture and their last album, Chemical Chords. Watson's own songs found a home on 2008's Junior Electronics EP, which was released...
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Musostics, Junior Electronics
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