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No. 3 Meryl Trussler , May 12th, 2010 13:34

We used to joke about the day when the 90s became retro-fashionable and we all thought that day was many fine fads away, but as we looked on we tripped on double-denim, crop-tops and neo-riot grrrl and fell headfirst into Hole. It became apparent what a ridiculous mash and clash of styles the whole thing was, like any other decade, half-bent on revolution and half on lipsticked faux-revolution. It also became apparent that there was this little band from Gothenburg called jj, who had jigsawed together every element of 1997-2002 flawlessly, without gaps, and put it in a time-capsule that burst from the earth again in 2009, apparently irrepressible.

To illustrate: the first song on this second album (no. 1 was a single) begins with a melancholy reimagining of The Game ft. Lil Wayne's 'My Life', wet with reverb; so far, so modern. But before the track's two minutes are up, the female voice segues into a short rendition of 'It Goes Around the World' by ATC. Yes, that one, with the "la la la-la-la" – itself a cover of a Russian song recorded by Ruki Vverh in 1998. Cripes, it really does go around the world. And that's just the beginning; what follows is a brief torrent of echoey MIDI-abuse and absurdly simple lyrics and melodies straight out of the trance wave. "I don't care what the people say," she proclaims on 'Voi Parlate, Io Gioco', "I'm gonna get you anyway." Something that sounds suspiciously like, "confuse you with the doo-doo." Somewhere, Nicole Appleton's heart stops in poetic ecstasy.

Still. It does provide this marvellous feeling of confidence that said era was all about. Y'know, c'est la viiie and don't stop, never give up and wear sunscreen. Apart from the propa'-spiritual slowies, like the aforementioned opener, and 'Golden Virginia', most of the songs are joyful pastiches of synth and chummy guitar riffs, cymbals shhing to a stop before a throwing themselves back into the beat. It's difficult not to like on some level, to be honest - even knowing that if this was done with less echo pedal and more Pete Waterman it would not be getting such Pitchfork props. It is a significantly less cool album than its predecessor, dropping the Knife-ish electronics and the knowing, sexy vocal lilts that scored them a tour with The xx. But at least it's a well-made little thing, musically; it is both danceable and nearly tangible with fuzz, like a fun-size Radio Dept. It namechecks Zlatan Ibrahimovic in some sampled commentary in 'Into the Light' for some reason. Which is… fine. And it is, at points, unashamedly happy: which is nice, even if happiness is totally 1999.