jj n° 3
Released by Secretly Canadian/Sincerely Yours
Sweden’s latest indie buzz band, jj, veer toward the electronica-tinged pop sounds of their countrypeople—think Robyn, The Knife, Air France—on sophomore record jj n° 3, proving there’s no need to ditch a profitable formula. But jj’s elusive, publicity-eschewing band members Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander, know the secret to a steady output of bright, shiny records is not-so-happy underpinnings, bringing a sense of humanity to what, on the surface, can come across as lullaby music.
jj n° 3, a nine-track album that runs just under half an hour, sets its melodramatic pacing from opening track “My Life” with the sombre plea: “Dear Lord, you took so many of my people, I’m just wondering why you haven’t taken my life? What the hell am I doing right?” It’s actually a cover of Lil Weezy’s croaking contribution to a similarly titled song by The Game, ending with breathy phrasing into another homage–this time to eurodance classic “Around The World” by ATC. You’ve never heard a mash-up quite like this, and even though it barely reaches the two-minute mark, it’s the best song on the album. With such a strong, aurally pleasing track as an opener, it’s difficult to not enjoy the rest of the album.
“Let Go” pairs Kastlander’s lush vocals with layered, tempo-changing melodies that still manage to retain a sense of simplicity, and “Voi Parlate, Io Gioco” is a buoyant pop gem that merges digital tones with hip-hop drums, an acoustic guitar and soft vocal harmonies. The duo has a wide frame of reference and they clearly aren’t afraid to utilize it.
It might seem less expansive and slightly more generic than sunnier debut jj n° 2, but jj gets credit for crafting an idiosyncratic, ambitious and more-than-interesting-enough follow up in less than a year since their blog buzz began.—Anupa Mistry