Initially released in the middle of 2009, when beach indie was beginning to become a real and tangible aesthetic, whether coordinated or coincidental, Swedish outfit jj’s debut album jj no. 2 exemplifies the simplest and most serene qualities of summer in melodic form. In basic terms, it’s a dance album, and an especially hedonistic one at that, though not excessively so. Boasting song titles like “Ecstasy,” sporting a blood-trickled pot leaf on the cover, boosted by Balearic disco beats and adorned with sensual female vocals, jj no. 2 is sex, drugs and club culture packed into a light and easy-to-love 29 minute package.
Having signed to American indie Secretly Canadian and releasing an even lighter and new agey follow-up in the interim, jj has finally brought their dubious titled debut (no. 1 was a single) to American shores. And a solid year after it first puddle-jumped from publication to publication, intoxicating listeners with its solidly catchy and atmospheric melodies, jj no. 2 sounds just as fresh and alluring. And having spun it during the month of August, I can vouch that its skeletal grooves and ethereal melodies sound especially fantastic on a balmy summer night. There’s a calming and woozy effect (like drugs) coupled with a strange kind of joyousness (also like drugs). More than a temporary high, however, jj offers numerous highlights, from the sweet and bubbly “My Love,” to the tropical flavored “From Africa to Málaga,” to the propulsive beats of “Intermezzo” and the mesmerizing dub of “Ecstasy.”
Despite the illusion of excess that jj creates through their drug references and imagery, jj no. 2 is a fairly simple, atmospheric pop record that offers repeated rewards for those seeking year-round escape. I could give or take most of the lo-fi artists romanticizing beach parties and wasting summers away, but jj offers a preferable alternative by merely evoking a feeling, rather than migrating toward kitsch.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.