Published Aug 15, 2014Considering the speed at which music culture seems to move in the digital age, five years can feel like a lifetime. That gap between albums from Swedish duo JJ, whose last full length was 2009's jj n° 3, is even more pronounced when you consider what's happened in the interim. Their brand of bedroom pop, fusing dreamy synths with R&B and hip-hop motifs, was something of a mysterious novelty then. Now, it's everywhere: Lorde, Lana Del Rey, the Weeknd, How to Dress Well… the list goes on and on.
And yet V (confusingly, the duo's third album) works, and works rather well, on the strength of its ability to cultivate a woozy, needy mood. Vocalist Elin Kastlander's tone remains slightly otherworldly, just uncanny enough to make her flirtations with hip hop lingo seem exotic rather than forced. The album's songs can blur together at times, but the highlights sparkle: the hummable "Dynasti," the smooth "All White Everything" and the lovely '80s guitar-aping album closer "All Ways, Always." JJ's sound may be nothing special anymore, but their songs and vibe still stand up. (Secretly Canadian)