nº 2 (reissue)

Secretly Canadian

Sep 14, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The singing is simply pleasant, the lyrics, banal (sample: “It takes you down at the speed of sound/when you’re on the ground you never think that you’ll get up”), and the instrumentals float in and out as though tinged by that mysterious leaf that is on the cover (Hint: it aint’ oregano). So what exactly makes jj’s debut album jj nº 2  (recently re-released by new home, Secretly Canadian) so darn appealing?

It’s as though, by not over-thinking it, Swedish musical alchemists Joakim Benon (instrumentals) and Elin Kastlander (vox) have conceptually side-stepped childhood-referencing twee bands to make an album that directly derives meaning from the driving forces of youth—action without premeditation, emotion without reason, and beauty without strings attached. That alone is enough to make last year’s buzz band still relevant in 2010 and (baring the extinction of nostalgia), into the foreseeable future. Knowing that, it becomes easier to “get” jj’s world. They’ve constructed an emotional journey—straight back to the time when stealing moments with the opposite sex and finally getting a driver’s license were among your chief concerns.

The 26 minutes of jj nº 2 (plus bonus track, “Baby”) feel closer to two hours—but lost in jj’s dream world, that’s not such a bad thing. Pop structures are more suggested than utilized. Echoes, Baltic beats, and ghostly whispers abound. Their dreamy touch makes Lil Wayne’s “Ecstasy” a dark, druggy ramble, while “Are You Still In Vallda?” and “Me & Dean” stick out as surprisingly straightforward forays into folk. Lyrics such as “Wanna hear my masterplan? Here is my masterplan” still make a strong case for not looking back. But wordless interlude “Intermezzzo,” and bridge to jj nº 3 bonus track, Swedish-language “Baby,” prove that youth isn’t always wasted on the young. (www.myspace.com/jjn1n2n3)

Author rating: 7/10

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