Review : JJ - jj no 3
SlantmagazineOn the opening track of jj's jj n°3, vocalist Elin Kastlander moans, "What the hell am I doing right?," alerting listeners almost immediately to the album's stark and mournful professions of happiness. Like jj n°2 before it, n°3 strikes a balance between the blasé and the magical, matching facetious, oft-distracted melodies with barefoot gorgeousness and wide-eyed, childlike marvel. It's music for a slow sunrise or a drunken sunset: winding, slow, perhaps even directionless, and yet indescribably beguiling amid the calm.
Confidently straddling a murky gulf between various world genres, jj's second full-length release is best described as a particularly ethereal, Carribbean-flavored minimalism, drifting somewhere between the cool, African melancholy of Sade and Röyksopp's diversionary synth-pop. The former comparison can be primarily attributed to Kastlander, whose sullen, burnt voice often barely manages to enunciate her morose declarations of joy, capturing a funereal grace on "No Escapin' This" as her accompaniments navigate reverberant, oceanic visions. The forlorn spaciness continues on standout "Into the Light," which marries the thrumming of samba street beats to a galactic palate while phasing between slices of an excitable fútbol announcer and a gloomy morass of spacey instrument banks.
Yet even in its most tearful moments, the album bares a silver lining: The twisting "Voi Paralte, Lo Giocco," for example, remains murky and milky until the faux-orchestral touches sweep in to rescue it, whisking the melody skyward. Indeed, amid all of n°3's offerings, only the aforementioned opener, "My Life," decides to stay continually bleak and aloof, with little more than a plodding, austere piano and Kastlander's epitaph-like lyricism to guide it. As darkly elegant as that pairing might be, n°3 manages better when its somber front is married to blithe surrealism, a feat jj accomplishes with skill and regularity....full text
SpinLike the vague biographical details of its members, this mysterious Swedish dream-pop band's music remains hazy -- mucho echo, blurry harmonies, soft acoustic instrumentation buoyed by generous synth strings, and a bright white ambience suggesting both sunny Balearic beaches and blinding Scandinavian snowstorms. Yet its emotions are conversely vivid. Turning Lil Wayne's chorus on the Game's "My Life" into a piano-accompanied prayer, jj celebrate the rapture of a love so severe it obliterates consciousness: Over a classically genteel arrangement floats the album's key lyric, "Take me away like I overdosed on heroin."...full text
DustedmagazineA dialectic is a story we tell about development. How do things change over time is a question that’s bothered us in the West since the Greeks, and the past 200 years have been about developing complex stories about how people, ideas, cultures and societies affect and change each other, how ideas morph and take on the characteristics of other ideas that they encounter, and how parts of those ideas can be obscured for a while, only to erupt later in time in new and surprising ways.
I like thinking about this as I listen to jj’s newest album jj no 3 because it is the most blatant flag-bearer of the erupting sound of the mainstream 1980s pop within indie pop (the distinctions between indie and mainstream themselves becoming even more confused as boundaries continue to break down between the two). When I was a child, I ended up listening to a lot of lite FM because that’s what my mom listened to in the car. Before I had an opinion of music, that carved out certain pathways for what I would like and what I wouldn’t like, pathways which laid somewhat forgotten until they were rediscovered in my 20s. There’s a certain nostalgia that overtakes us as we age, and for artists, that nostalgia influences the things they create.
This isn’t a story of personal development; however, in the same vein, there is also cultural nostalgia. Not the Jacksonian Tea Party pining for a mythical American past, but that dialectical nostalgia – the welling up of the past from a natural empathy. As we grow older, and as existence grows more complicated, we all feel a loss or a lack that we didn’t feel before. Whether we have truly lost something or whether that feeling was never there to begin with is immaterial. The fact remains that we feel it, and then naturally latch onto symbols of our past that remind us of that “lost” feeling....full text
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