I read that this was jj’s first full length album, and by all accounts it is, but at a mere 27 minutes in length in can easily float by before you’ve had the chance to take much in. But after more listens, this album reveals itself as quite a treat and a hidden gem of 2009.
From Sweden, jj are also a bit of a mystery with no myspace or website of there own, fortunately they still have a wiki, which reveals they’re signed to Swedish label Sincerely Yours. I also found that they start a US tour with The xx in March, you lucky Americans.
The album’s sound is ambient across the board, with ‘easy listening’ a generic term that would be suitable. But unlike many albums described as this, jj clearly have a much broader and more interesting set of influences which appear throughout the record. Firstly, as I mentioned on Track of the Week, single ‘Ecstasy’ bizarrely (but successfully) samples Lil Wayne. Other influences range between African beats and lo-fi acoustic pop; all of which gently softened with a blanket of atmospheric ambience.
Interesting samples and interesting beats are joined by interesting lyrics, the anonymous female vocalist pondering an array of subjects. From their apparent interest in drugs (see cover) come the lyrics to ‘Ecstasy’, whilst ‘Masterplan’ presents an upbeat outlook: “you’ll never win, don’t mind lets go for a swim, believe what your dreams may bring”.
All in all, the album has a twee feel and a fairly unique combination of sounds that give this album a certain nostalgic mood. I can see this as being a regular for pleasant background music, though I feel it’s more than that really, and worthy of the acclaim it’s been receiving in many of 2009’s best albums lists. Check out the songs below, but by all means go back to track of the week and get ‘Ecstasy’, the standout track from the album.