Review : jj - High Summer
PitchforkHere's how the new jj EP starts: Singer Elin Kastlander coos breathily in different tones, some oohs, some ahhs, and the notes build upon themselves, climbing and climbing until they start to sound like angels. And then she sings the following verse. "See me in your city, looking pretty, yeah I'm shining dog/ With my fresh Air Ones and my dog/ G is black and white, fuck segregation." The sound and lyrics (cribbed from T.I. and Lil Wayne anthems) have nothing to do with one another. The contrast is so jarring it's almost laughable. And right here in 30 seconds or so of music, you feel the paradox of this band-- their ability to make lovely, stirring pop that occasionally falls flat on its face.
It's odd because jj have already proven that they can do this sort of thing well. Their music has always been about pastiche and has always incorporated hip-hop to some degree. It's resulted in great songs like "Ecstasy" that transformed Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" into a gurgling Balearic burner without feeling like a winking cover. But even though they clearly love hip-hop, there is a fine line in what jj do, where appropriation can suddenly turn into parody, and High Summer struggles to find the right balance. There are moments where their Tumblr-ized mix of lovelorn indie pop, bouncy Mediterranean club beats, and rap attitude unfurls in a cohesive image stream and there are moments when it does not.
The thing jj have had going for them since the start is a solid sense of craft. Their talent for melody was what made jj n°2 sparkle and its absence made the follow-up drift along aimlessly. When they tap back into that, like they do on "Big Hearts, Big Dreams", it's easy to feel some of that old jj magic. A wispy 80s-radio synth backdrop connects with modern slabs of bass and computerized drum claps and it all just takes off and goes skyward. Instead of cut-and-pasting her favorite Weezy bars, Kastlander mixes her own love-and-loss experiences with rap boasts like, "Get high off this weed, then we fly over beats," in a way that blurs reality but still leaves a piece of her in it....full text
InyourspeakersThis is a gorgeous musical duo, despite somewhat course, and immature lyrical content.
There are a mere five songs on the High Summer EP. It’s chill, yet evocative of summer, and all songs are solid, including the 50 second “My Name.” Standouts for me included the title track, “High Summer,” with its magical opening that reminded me of a Gaelic chant, and “Big Hearts, Big Dreams” that’s musically pretty great.
JJ are real life lovers, and Swede haze-pop savants, Elin Kastlander and Joakim Benon. Elin’s gorgeously haunting voice carries them into sublime territory. JJ (a reference to French director, François Truffaut’s, film “Jules et Jim”) kicked it off in 2009.
I mentioned the lyrical content. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the EP’s title should be taken literally, because these are more or less chilled out stoner tunes, AND summery. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because I very much like these two. It’s the kind of thing where a good song could be great with better lyrics. Take a listen. Let us know you opinion....full text
BaeblemusicFor Midsummer's Eve, a big Swedish holiday, jj dropped another EP, this one entitled High Summer. It's an appropriate title because that's what this group of five songs sounds like -- being drugged out on a hot summer day (not that I know what that feels like, I'm just guessing).
Continuing to transform hip-hop tropes to fit their dream-pop aesthetic, jj opens their new EP with lines like, "I'm shining dog/With my Air Force Ones and my dog/G is black and white, fuck segregation" and later sampling The-Dream's "Shawty Is The Shit" on the song "10." Since their first album in 2009, it's been amazing how jj has incorporated hip-hop and flaunted rapper-like confidence on their hazy tracks without seeming laughable. Instead it's what makes them so likable.
High Summer is mostly a stage for Elin Kastlander to exercise her prowess as a dreamy vocalist -- the songs go wherever and whenever she wants them to. She has the ability to create melodies that are seriously attention-grabbing, and High Summer's best moments are those swooping melodic instances. For example, "Big Hearts, Big Dreams," which is anchored by a great urgent beat with varied percussion, only reaches its zenith when the beat drops for a moment and Kastlander sings, "I don't buy records, I make them." Then when the music comes back in to accompany Kastlander's proclamation about "big hearts" and "big dreams," the song takes on its full, deeper meaning....full text
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