Swedish duo loses itself in the ether jj evokes a world where pop music’s ultimate pursuit is immaculate fluff, and that’s not an insult. Between its burbling timbres and breathy vocals, its feathery production and demure touches, the duo’s first album—confusingly titled jj nº 2 (“nº 1” was a single)—seemed to be set on a warm beach inhabited by day dreamers fanasizing about flitting around foreign continents (the bouncy single “From Africa to Málaga”) over lambent, near-Hawaiian guitars and Peter Gabriel-ish production. It featured an interpolation of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” that was every bit as buttery and sugar-powdered as the original songs that hinted at bandmates Elin Katlander and Joakim Benon’s affinitity for early Everything But the Girl.
The gentle waves of buzz surrounding jj's curious marvel of a debut quickly lapped beyond the duo's native Gothenburg shores, creating considerable expectations for its follow-up, released jointly -- a mere nine months after jj Nº 2 made its initial splash -- by Sweden's Sincerely Yours and landlocked Amerindie bulwark Secretly Canadian. Thus aptly adjectivally equipped, jj Nº 3 takes few chances, very much offering more of the same from these sincerely secretive Swedes: it's virtually identical to its predecessor in titling strategy, length (nine songs in a fleeting 27 minutes), and sound. That sound -- lush, glassy, placidly grooving electronic indie pop with wispy tropical and new age undercurrents -- counts for a lot, and those won over by Nº 2's surreally syrupy vibe (equal parts childlike sweetness and narcotic haze), or by Elin Kastlander's lusciously lazy vocals, will find themselves woozily wooed once again.
There's something fairly brave about releasing two albums within a year, as the Swedish duo jj has done. Although a similar approach has worked well for others (see Vampire Weekend and Los Campesinos!), the risk is great. Unless you are established enough to have a devoted fanbase, you may alienate your barely together audience by unwantedly bombarding them with more music before they're ready.
We knew next to nothing about Swedish duo jj when their debut arrived last summer, but it hardly mattered because the music communicated so much on its own. jj n° 2 was a cosmopolitan record that took its cues from a variety of genres-- Balearic dance, bookish indie pop, and hip-hop-- but put them together in classic Swedish fashion with loads of hooks. It was breezy without being drifty, humorous without being goofy, and even tender and romantic when it needed to be.
“Take me away like I overdose on heroin… “Or Calgon. Since Swedish indie-pop enigma jj (members Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander) broke out last year, gaining notoriety with their cannabis-emblazoned full-length debut, jj n° 2, the group has signed to Secretly Canadian, toured and crafted their follow-up, the chaptered jj n° 3. A step both productive and opportunistic, and obviously motivated by the acclaim they received less than a year ago, jj’s attempting to keep their newfound fan club satiated and, in turn, keep themselves relevant.
The mysterious Swedish duo jj released their debut LP, jj n° 2, just nine months ago, right in the middle of the summer. Their timing was impeccable. The album’s particular brand of tropics-infused dream-pop became my official soundtrack for the summer (and presumably many others’). Conversely, jj n° 3 comes stocked with frostier synth tones and darker moods in an effort to make the band’s summertime blues palatable for the current season’s snowstorms.
In music, there’s something romantic about being faceless, something easy to love about a sound you can’t attach to a portrait. The cloak of mystery allows an artist to do what she does best: use the materials of art to evoke senses, memories, or moods in her listeners, without having to weather a hailstorm of premature and uninformed judgments. Unfortunately, like the haze of infatuation in a love affair, mystery is difficult to sustain; most artists who first appeared out of nowhere end up exposing their true face after a couple releases.
The second album from Gothenburg, Sweden's jj begins with a minor-key, self-serious interpretation of the chorus in Lil Wayne's My Life. That should be enough to make you want to avoid this. [rssbreak] The duo's first album was full of forward-looking, fresh-thinking musical ideas. This compilation of afterthoughts casts doubt on that assessment.
Only the most cynical soul could deny jj a place in their heart. Mike Diver 2010 By not making a massive song and dance about themselves – no press photos, no real biography – Swedish duo jj have obtained that rarest of buzzes: genuine word-of-mouth interest. The pair, Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander, have quietly built themselves an online following, and debut album jj n° 2, released last year, earned itself Pitchfork’s Best New Music seal of approval.