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Hear jj Go Higher Than the Sun on New ‘Beautiful Life’


Too often overlooked in the discussion of Sweden’s elegantly wasted, capitalization-eschewing indie-pop duo jj is the possibility that they, you know, mean it. That they litter their crystalline Balearic-house jawns with knowing hip-hop references because they genuinely love the music, and want to participate in that culture the only way they can — by expressing their own truth just as unabashedly. “My life, my swag,” to quote one early, all-lowercase song title.

From upcoming single jj n° 4, due out on May 8 from Secretly Canadian, A-side “Beautiful Life,” gorgeously enriches the paradoxes most recently set out on Christmas Eve 2010 mix Kills and a few one-off tracks like 2011 single “No One Can Touch Us Tonight.” For smoky-voiced Elin Kastlander and collaborator Joakim Benon, a rap-like refrain involving “champagne and marijuana” warrants a musical setting every bit as blissed-out as the effects of their chosen intoxicants. Delicate acoustic guitar, rippling hand percussion, and rave-like vocal samples pitched to Molly all rush by, evoking dearly departed fellow Swedish duo Air France as much as omnivore-pop O.G.s Saint Etienne. Kastlander? She’s just “blowin’ dro in this bitch / Doin’ blow in this bitch.” OK!

The results are superficially pretty, sure, and incongruous enough to provoke a smile or two, but part of the point of this project is that they’re no joke, either. “This is how we feel,” Kastlander sighs toward the song’s new-age-y conclusion. “One last chance, make it real.” Though jj recently covered the folkie ’60s protest song “Eve of Destruction,” it’s worth noting that they simultaneously incorporated a line from A$AP Rocky’s “Demons,” a song that begins, “I just live, I just live, I live day by day / Fighting demons.” From Harlem to Gothenburg, there’s beauty in the twilight, in the fleeting moment. Coos Kastlander, “My love is my life / Life is my love.”