When the mysterious Swedish duo JJ (then stylized as jj) of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander first appeared on the music scene back in the summer of 2009, they did so with immediate impact. Their single jj n° 1 and its full length follow-up jj n° 2 seems so unlike anything we have heard in music before even though a lot of it is already familiar – the flowing balearic beats, the heavy wind-swept synths, liberal samplings and reworkings of rap and hip-hop tracks, even the self-professed cheese of Enya-like orchestrations. What JJ does so well is to mix all these disparate elements together and make the contrast of the ethereal with the vulgar work. What seems banal on their own becomes extraordinary as filtered by JJ. jj n° 3, their next studio record, came out a mere 8 months after their debut pretty much continued the trend of its predecessors.
Since then, JJ have released a variety of EPs (including jj n° 4). Still, it has almost been 4 full years since the band came out with a full length follow-up to jj n° 3. Thus, it with great personal excitement when I found out that JJ are about release their newest record, V (i.e. (jj n° 5). Within those 4 years, both Benon and Kastlander have described themselves as finally being more comfortable with themselves in terms of their performances (and thus being able to shed their more mysterious tendencies). Those four years have also allowed the pair to come up with what they feel is the peak of their work. And that music is laid out in V.
V bares all the familiar characteristics of past JJ works – the immersive pop synths and the familiar suddenness of hearing Kastlander cussing crude phrases amidst the sweetest of melodies, all shaped in a more pop-bent environment. Still, everything in V seems to work in a much more grander scale. Everything just seems more epic. And its just so beautiful and gratifying hearing the whole thing in surround sound. V truly does feel like the culmination of what JJ have set out to do. They have finally perfected their music. This is a stunning record in all senses of the word. Easily one of my favorites for the year by far.
Watch the video for lead single All White Everything embedded below.
JJ – V comes out 8/19 via Sincerely Yours/ Secretly Canadian (order here)