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POP MUSIC REVIEW

New wave is the next wave of the Scandinavian sound

Junior Senior has an interesting take on '80s music, but the Danish band can't escape a cartoonish feel.

May 30, 2003|Natalie Nichols | Special to The Times

Pop fans have recently come to equate Scandinavia with such wild 'n' woolly punk acts as Sweden's the Hives, but Denmark's cartoonishly kinetic new-wave pop group Junior Senior showed another facet of that region's sonic output during its L.A. debut at the Viper Room on Wednesday.

Back in their homeland, guitarist-singer Jesper Mortensen ("Junior") and vocalist Jeppe Laursen ("Senior") are label mates of apocalyptically minimal duo the Raveonettes. In the U.S., however, their band has been signed to Atlantic Records; in just one more example of how everything '80s is so in vogue, labels don't want to miss a potential trick.

Backed by two singers, a drummer and a bassist, Junior and Senior traded vocals during a 40-minute set that was like a catalog of '80s pop styles from Devo to Duran Duran. The music from their debut album, "D-d-don't Stop the Music," had an offbeat sexuality akin to electroclash. Yet it was more inventive and fun-loving, and probably more broadly appealing.

A chaotically exuberant rendition of "Twist and Shout" telegraphed Junior Senior's admiration for the energy of early rock 'n' roll, and that sense of immediacy helped make such numbers as "Move Your Feet" campily catchy.

Still, the distinctly Banana Splits-esque feel of such songs as the inanely infectious "Rhythm Bandits" tipped the show so far toward caricature that it was sometimes tough to connect even in the moment.

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