JJ - JJ No 3
Let’s take a moment to clear something up. ‘Clannad’ need not be a term of abuse. A brief (and delirious) dip into their sublime Robin of Sherwood masterwork will bear witness. With reference to Sweden’s bliss-pop hipsters JJ, however, we’re not really feeling Clannad in a good way. We’re feeling vanilla. We’re feeling Enya. We’re feeling ‘Orinoco Flow’.
We’re feeling Sade too, however – and calypso riffs and balmy synths and hip hop remodelling and tropical beats – and it’s this effulgent virtue set that enchanted so many thrill-seekers last summer when a shimmering, beatific cabal – then entirely under wraps – issued their debut (and subsequently raved-about) album, JJ No 2.
That our aforesaid mystical coterie – since unveiled as Gothenburg duo Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander – have released their second album so soon after the first arouses surprise and mild trepidation. And while the new material’s quick-fire fruition is chalked up to the ‘naive swagger of youth’, this does little to assuage our doubts as to the need for another long-player in such haste – especially when the songs on JJ No 3 are, in general, shadows (or perhaps just over-familiar siblings) of their forebears.
There are, however, some great moments – the dizzying electro-gleam of ‘Into the Light’ is joyous –and the prevailing cultural infiltration of New Age music into alt-pop is abundant. If it blandly ambles, Enya-like, in the Timotei cornfields of ‘The Light’, then it hugely improves through the ambient pseudo-panpipe dawn of ‘Golden Virginia’. It’s Clannad doing ‘The Lambada’. It’s that good.