Forget the past several years of global political paralysis and slo-mo economics. The ecstatic, audacious, and maximalist style of pop that burst from some corners of Swedish indiedom leading up through the financial crisis is still surreptitiously booming. Scandinavian trio Postiljonen's upcoming album Skyer, due out July 22 worldwide, matches the foam-kissed joy of Air France with the anthemic expanses of M83. Cascine label founder Jeff Bratton, who interned at beloved Gothenburg imprint Service, turned his obsession with groups such as the Embassy and the Tough Alliance into what Billboard recently called "the closest thing to a Scandinavian pop label that exists this side of the Atlantic." Paris' Champions League, with their dreamy new dance-pop single "Paris Is Our Playground," have also clearly drunk the Swedish Kool-Aid.
Now jj, the Swedish duo who debuted in 2009 with Enya-swag album n° 2, are back to reclaim the rightful place of Sincerely Yours, the label founded by the Tough Alliance. "Fågelsången," which means "Birdsong," is the first we've heard from Elin Kastlander and Joakim Benon since last year's free, The-Dream-sampling High Summer EP. Like last year's "Beautiful Life" single, it's a continued refinement rather than a jarring new direction. Loping world beats, gangstalicious lyrical references ("Talkin' that talk," just like Rihanna!), and breathy yearning evoke a beachside scene that's as tear-stained as it is idyllic: Heaven is in sight, it's just slightly out of reach. "So we go on like nothing happened," Kastlander intones. That's been this particular strain of global pop's M.O., but this isn't meta-commentary. It's heartsickness.