Johnossi

Transitions

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AllMusic Review by

Swedish duo John Engelbert and Oskar "Ossi" Bonde make an arena's worth of noise together under the name Johnossi. While guitarist/drummer combos aren't so unusual in the indie world, it's a challenging road to take for a band specializing in well-produced, epic modern rock. Much like British trio Muse, Johnossi play for grandeur more often than not, with Engelbert relying heavily on guitar effects to flesh out their sound and both members singing. Their fourth album, 2014's Transitions, finds the duo further developing their approach, adopting a thicker, heavier sound than on 2010's Mavericks, which included a number of acoustic tracks and sported an overall slicker production sheen. On the darkly building opener and lead single "Into the Wild," Engelbert's big, warm voice incants wearily over fuzzed-out guitar and skittering synth effects, sounding like a throatier cousin of Elbow's Guy Garvey. The tempo picks up on the hugely melodic "Gone Forever," with its anthemic piano riff and giant chorus. It's the kind of well-written and easily accessible fist-pumper you could imagine being launched out over a sea of eager music festival-goers somewhere. Similarly, the multi-sectioned "Tell the World," a howler aimed at the back seats, boasts one of the album's catchiest choruses. Still, Transitions isn't all sound and fury and Johnossi know when to dial it back, adding breaks within the rockers and offering up a pair of quieter ballads in the form of "For a Little While" and "Great Escape." Transitions definitely has a big-budget stamp on it, but there is a lot to like about this well-made album that could easily serve as their breakout beyond Swedish borders.

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