jj – Kills
(Sincerely Yours, 2010)
There was a time when jj was an anonymous Swedish pop project that hid Lil’ Wayne lyrics under balaeric beats and were presented as nothing nothing than blood splattered marijuana leaves. Blood on the cover was ironic at the time because the music was so quiet and the female voice so sweet, but the marijuana made sense once Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander presented themselves to the world as one of the worst live acts at SXSW 2010. The reports are that the duo was so stoned they practically fell asleep on stage, if they even made it to the stage. With the anonymity went the critical praise. jj n° 2 was the last release to receive glowing reviews from critics and fans alike. Like so many other young acts in this brave new world of instant music, they did not live up to the hype.
I have stuck by jj though. Sure, nothing has been quite as good as those first few singles, but it’s not bad either. I never expected them to be an amazing live band. This is not music I need to see in a live setting, it’s headphone music. Or, with Kills, driving music. Kills was released as a free download on Christmas and it’s essentially a mixtape. This is not something I would pay $10 for, but it’s worth the time it takes to download. It’s a mixtape in the sense that they use beats from Kanye, M.I.A., Akon and interviews with Nicki Minaj. But it’s also a cover album with jj interpreting lyrics from the mentioned artists as well as lines from tv shows like Boardway Empire. kills brings jj out of the headphones and into the light of day. The lyrics are dark and violet, with over half dealing with killing, dying, robbing and stealing…but it’s also a fun album. It sounds best while driving and would be just as good in the club.
jj are not doing anything new, but they do have their own sound and I will continue to listen, even if I will probably skip the live shows.