Under Review

Junior Electronics

Musostics

Bureau B

Review by Tristan Koster


This is the second album by Junior Electronics, which comes from the mind of Joe Watson when he’s not producing or playing in everyone else’s experimental pop band. He has credits with other Euro pop acts like High Lamas and Monade, as well as Imitation Electric Piano and Stereolab. Mary Hampton (also of Stereolab) and others have credits on this record too, but for the most part it is singular vision of Watson’s that’s technically impressive, but doesn’t quite have the same charm as his other projects.

Musostics pulls primarily from the bygone era of the analogue ‘60s. It’s full of old machines learning new tricks, synths, keyboards and an array instruments and sound effects. Nothing is overdone though, and it has been constructed and composed expertly by Watson. Everything fits perfectly into place; there’s nothing especially jarring, but there’s nothing very surprising either.

Lyrically, it’s the same. Early tracks like “Elsie Queen Elsie” start the album off with great imagery and dark twisted themes that are very visceral, but as things progress the songs become less interesting and some lyrics defy interpretation altogether. “Mike McConnell” does get points for its contemporary Orwellian themes, but “Heads” is the really stand out track. Hampton’s vocals add a needed balance to Watson’s raspy, soft, and sometimes grating vocals. The track is also the closest the album comes to the first self-titled Junior Electronics album from 2008, and nails the playful, clever slightly twisted sound that it feels like Watson was trying to capture with the rest of the songs.

Fans of Watson’s other projects will enjoy Musostics. It’s a more technically driven version of the ‘60s droning lounge-sound and the musically minded will appreciate the composition at work. It can be a high bar for entry for people ill-acquainted with Euro experimental pop, but it is still well worth your time to sit down and listen to.