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.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares