Release Date: Aug 19, 2014
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
When jj accompanied the unveiling of V a few months ago with the announcement that they were now JJ, my heart sank. Was this it? Were we about to get a pukeworthy Mature Album from a Swedish duo that had made their name off a flip of Weezy’s “Lollipop?” Were they going to replace all the hip-hop references and tongue-in-cheek platitudes with… sincerity? By nearly all accounts, the pair’s output had dipped in quality since their stunning debut n° 2 dropped in 2009: the follow-up LP, n° 3, failed to match its predecessor’s melodic sensibilities, and the Kills mixtape was something of a fan-pleasing throwaway, full of odd riffs on mainstream songs that were pleasant but not breathtaking in the same way as n° 2. Initially anonymous, they even eventually revealed their real names to be Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander, cracking the mystique that helped build their initial wave of hype.
Newly capitalised and raring to go, off-kilter Swedes JJ are back, ready to once more dominate our every waking moment with flawless pop and enigmatic tendencies. Let Go was grand, but that seemingly peppy chapter in JJ’s saga has closed; welcome to a darker, more terrifying world. Their new record, V, is brimming with… well, everything. There’s a plethora of gut-blow, heart-rend turmoil.
Quite often by the time a band gets to its third album, it's time for a change. A different sound, a new approach, maybe bring in some new collaborators...whatever it takes to keep things fresh. On their third album, V, the Swedish duo JJ don't really do anything differently (with one big exception). Yes, the band's name is now in capital letters and we know their names, but the music they create is unchanged for the most part.
Considering the speed at which music culture seems to move in the digital age, five years can feel like a lifetime. That gap between albums from Swedish duo JJ, whose last full length was 2009's jj n° 3, is even more pronounced when you consider what's happened in the interim. Their brand of bedroom pop, fusing dreamy synths with R&B and hip-hop motifs, was something of a mysterious novelty then.
For the past few years, JJ have created and charmingly articulated their own small romantic world, a place that mixes dreamy sadness with drug lingo and the language of hip-hop with airy soft-pop atmospherics—all of it the product of two seeming stoners who can't be bothered to leave their house. The Swedish duo of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander were viewed as anonymous at first, but like many bands who enter the world that way, they now say that lurking in the shadows was simply a byproduct of releasing their music quickly, before they had a plan in place. However, even as we got to know them a little, and put faces to the sounds on record and on stages, they still seem unknowable: As Kastlander quotes Drake on their third record, V, it's their world, and they'll get high and/or die if they want to—and we're still stuck watching from outside no matter how cozy it sounds.
The trailer for Swedish dream pop outfit jj’s third album, V, was strangely beautiful. It featured lead singer Elin Kastlander entrenched in golden glitter and surrounded by beacons of flames. An uncanny contortionist in a white morph suit also made an appearance. The teaser provided a good taste of what to expect from the album.
For a band whose name and album titles are minimal, JJ traffics in a sound far more expansive. Sure, the title track introducing the album is fairly small in scope, but it gives way to the rolling percussion and strings of "Dynasti" before you know it. This sort of indie pop requires confidence to pull off since it's somewhat commonplace these days and, luckily, JJ is able to walk with their heads held high.
Following jj has been like watching an adored pet slowly meet an untimely death, invariably sad with moments of cuteness and hope all along the way. There was something fresh and promising about the duo’s “jj nº 1” single and jj nº 2 debut, featuring tracks that pushed far-apart genres like dream pop and hip-hop together. Their releases between then and their third studio album, V , were ultimately toned-down, airier, and seemingly less considered versions of their earliest releases.
opinion bySAMUEL TOLZMANN < @scatlint > Until now, this band’s story has been a disappointing one, a cautionary tale of diminishing returns. The mysterious, perpetually blazed Swedish duo came on strong but burned out early with the cheap high of “Ecstasy. ” They made wistful Balearic indie pop that vaporized on impact (can’t stop with these weed puns).
To describe the Swedish indie-pop duo JJ (comprised of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander) as simply eccentric would be a gross understatement. Aside from maintaining an air of mystery for the first few years of the band’s career, JJ successfully pioneered a music style that would have been considered by many, well, absurd. Mashing together gently spoken and airy indie-pop melodies with flashy hip-hop samples and lyrical subject matter often associated with the latter genre on jj No.