JJ no 3

When JJ came out of nowhere and released their breakthrough debut LP, no 2, last summer, the Swedish duo were as much a mystery as they were a delicacy. Now, only eight months later, they're back with a follow-up in North America on Secretly Canadian under the confirmed identity of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander. With such a flawless first impression, JJ had their work cut out for them and unfortunately, despite some moments of greatness, no 3 sounds a little undeveloped. Part of the problem is that they've begun manoeuvring away from the Balearic, beach blanketed pop that made them stand out alongside label-mates Air France and the Tough Alliance. While it's not a full-on abandonment, the array of stirring polyrhythms that steered their debut is severely lacking, at times sounding as if the songs are unfinished or even leftovers. This deflation affects JJ's freewheeling spirit, resulting in Kastlander's vocals becoming a little too sullen and far less beguiling. Another drawback is that there aren't any melodies as strong as something like "Ecstasy" or "From Africa to Málaga," which leaves most of the album sounding a little flat in spots. Despite the drawbacks, Benon's production is always lush and sublime (especially the euphoric "Into the Light"), leading me to believe that although some of the wind has been taken out of JJ's sails, their breezy pop can fly high once again. (Secretly Canadian)