Junior Boys

As if Timbaland hasn't accomplished enough, Junior Boys' debut signals another achievement for contemporary pop's MVP: influencing (and therefore elevating) blue-eyed soul. Affected as he is, lead singer Jeremy Greenspan doesn't need melisma or homeboy posturing when he has herky-jer-er-er-ky beats to mimic Tim's stutter'n'B. But Exit isn't just about skittering -- the Canadian trio culls its mostly forlorn sound from volumes of source material. "Bellona," for example, is a hopped-up moment that suggests Mtume by way of Metro Area, juxtaposing four-on-the-floor/light-on-your-feet beats with thick, vintage-esque synths.

This year, Telefon Tel Aviv and Funkstörung have attempted such R&B-tinged electro-balladry, but besides great tunes, their records were missing what defines Exit: self-assured restraint. This record is breathtaking because it cares equally about sound and silence. The title track contentedly tingles against Greenspan's pipes, as a thwacking beat calls and an acidic bass line responds, with the two rarely intersecting. And most of it is that gorgeous.

Last Exit should bring Junior Boys more of the acclaim they've received since releasing two singles last year. But these collagists borrow so much from their heroes that they can't be the second coming. If anything, they're more like a techno-savvy version of Wham! And, as it turns out, that's still a great, great thing.