FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012 |
Posted by: Andrew Gruttadaro
For Midsummer's Eve, a big Swedish holiday, jj dropped another EP, this one entitled High Summer. It's an appropriate title because that's what this group of five songs sounds like -- being drugged out on a hot summer day (not that I know what that feels like, I'm just guessing).
Continuing to transform hip-hop tropes to fit their dream-pop aesthetic, jj opens their new EP with lines like, "I'm shining dog/With my Air Force Ones and my dog/G is black and white, fuck segregation" and later sampling The-Dream's "Shawty Is The Shit" on the song "10." Since their first album in 2009, it's been amazing how jj has incorporated hip-hop and flaunted rapper-like confidence on their hazy tracks without seeming laughable. Instead it's what makes them so likable.
High Summer is mostly a stage for Elin Kastlander to exercise her prowess as a dreamy vocalist -- the songs go wherever and whenever she wants them to. She has the ability to create melodies that are seriously attention-grabbing, and High Summer's best moments are those swooping melodic instances. For example, "Big Hearts, Big Dreams," which is anchored by a great urgent beat with varied percussion, only reaches its zenith when the beat drops for a moment and Kastlander sings, "I don't buy records, I make them." Then when the music comes back in to accompany Kastlander's proclamation about "big hearts" and "big dreams," the song takes on its full, deeper meaning.
It's High Summer's deliberate wandering that ultimately weakens it, though. The EP's lead and title-track, "High Summer" is too dazed, lost-sounding to the point of distraction. Overall, too many parts of these jj songs are overly ambling and altogether too distant. And for all the times Kastlander is melodically on point, she's often too eager to forget the benefits of structure. For what it is though -- a 15-minute spell of summer mind-drifting -- High Summer does its job. It's just a little disappointing that that's all this EP is good for.