I realize that jj are, among other things, mysterious: few pictures of the band exist, and little information about the members has been released, especially when compared to their Secretly Canadian label mates. With their prolific yet surprisingly short foray into the indie music scene, however, it seems that the Balearic-loving Swedes are losing their mystique; their sound is becoming more and more predictable. Their new LP – naturally titled jj nº 3
– proves that predictability can be positive.
In other words, jj nº 3
continues the sound they established on their previous record, jj nº 2
, but the result isn’t boring; each track reinforces why jj are one of the most interesting bands making music today, a considerable feat considering the wealth of similar artists. Tracks like “And Now,” “Into the Light,” and the exceptionally fun “Voi Parlate, lo Gioco,” for example, forward jj’s signature, unique blend of Balearic-style beats, beautiful vocals, and breezy, almost twee arrangements. Unlike similar groups like The Tough Alliance, Windsurf, or Air France, whose styles seem more ambient or dance or production oriented, jj show through like tracks like these and more – namely album highlight “You Know” – that they are ultimately masters at producing solid, accessible pop songs.
While many tracks do help to finally define this seemingly enigmatic band, it is important to note that jj nº3
also indicates subtle signs of change. That is, on a number of tracks jj explore a more serious style. For instance, songs like “Light,” “No Escapin’ This,” and first single “Let Go,” while still evocative of jj’s idiosyncratic approach to pop, are moodier and perhaps deeper than anything on jj nº 2
. Similarly, one of the most interesting tracks, “Golden Virginia,” would be right at home on an early Patrick Wolf album with its brooding tone and gorgeous, surprising use of what sounds like pan flute. Even album opener “My Life” – an unusual and clever nod to hip hop in typical jj fashion – is still more earnest and delicate than “Ecstasy” or the like. jj nº 2
is an arguably tough act to follow. Fans will likely be inclined to compare the two albums, and many will probably be disappointed that jj nº 3
is, for the most part, simply more of the same. I encourage those listeners to postpone such hasty judgments. Although some tracks hint at stylistic growth, the record is, as its title implies, a continuation of the former. For me, though, that’s a good thing.