jj's nº 3 is so Swedish (read: lovely)

I love being the resident Swedish reviewer on Knox Road. Because the Swedes know what they’re doing with pop, period. So it comes as no surprise that Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander, the duo behind jj, have delivered a stunningly refreshing work of indie pop on their second full-length album, nº 3. You know how there’s smooth jazz? Well this is smooth electronic pop – it’s electronica without the constant glitches, boinks, doinks, what have you, and every song runs under four minutes.

The sound is drenched in reverb, and may take a bit getting used to, but once you’re in jj’s world, there’s no turning back. It really is mystical/dreamy/insert your own adjective for an imaginative sound. The strong rhythms and bells-meshed beats bring out the fundamental backbone to the lushness. At times I wish there was a little less of an ambient, echoing effect on the vocals, as it takes away from their inherent strength, but I realize that’s what best complements the general hazy atmosphere of the music. The mix of different whistles, strings, and other atypical instruments more than makes up for such shortcomings.

My biggest complaint, however, is that sometimes the album becomes a bit too cute for its own good. Like on “Voi Parlate, lo Gioco”, where Kastlander’s voice is too smooth, and over the top poppy, while the bells and acoustics overtake the simplicity of what most other songs on the album employ. Mind you, it’s still an enjoyable track, but it gets slightly irritating, and the only part I really like is the last 5 seconds with the final strings. But that’s me and strings. Another story entirely. The point is, jj have managed to make an enthralling, enveloping album that stands on its own in the current “dream pop” crowd. Job well done, lady and gent.

jj – “Let Go” [MP3]

jj – “Into The Light” [MP3]

Purchase nº 3

7 comments to jj’s nº 3 is so Swedish (read: lovely)

  • U

    Great review!
    Funny swedish mp.

  • Ania

    “The sound is drenched in reverb, and may take a bit getting used to (…)” – i cannot agree with you. reverb turns the music into a SPACE, which in result is so magical.

    Lee Reply:

    You can’t agree with what exactly? That the reverb takes getting used to, that the sound takes getting used to, or that there is reverb at all?

    …Just wondering. It’s unclear from your comment.

    Ania Reply:

    i wrote that “reverb turns the music into a SPACE” so you should cross out the point “that there is reverb at all?” from your list. i believe what you meant was that sound is difficult to get used to because of reverb. that’s what i can’t agree with and i explained it in the second sentence.
    your question “That the reverb takes getting used to, that the sound takes getting used to (…) ?” sounds a bit as if you didn’t know what YOU wrote yourself 😛

    Lee Reply:

    You may have meant reverb turns the sound into a space and that this album doesn’t do that, in which case you were of the opinion that there is no reverb.

    My question is in regard to your question. I am quite confident with my review, actually.

    Ania Reply:

    you have misunderstood me. now i think that one little word like “here” could make my comment sound clearer.
    but i thought it was obvious that what i had written referred to jj nº 3, as i commented on your review of this record.

    Lee Reply:

    Never mind, we are clearly both misunderstanding each other. Thanks for the feedback, though (seriously).