Quite often by the time a band gets to its third album, it's time for a change. A different sound, a new approach, maybe bring in some new collaborators...whatever it takes to keep things fresh. On their third album, V, the Swedish duo JJ don't really do anything differently (with one big exception). Yes, the band's name is now in capital letters and we know their names, but the music they create is unchanged for the most part. The songs are still soft as snow, with new age fantastic synths shimmering in the mist and hip-hop influences intruding like party crashers. JJ don't have another trick up their sleeves and that's fine; they haven't worn this one out yet. Especially since Elin Kastlander's vocals sound more assured than ever before, and the duo actually does take a bit more care this time around to vary the tone and feel of the songs from one to the next. Not enough to break the album's flow, but enough so that there are some tracks that sound like they could be taken out and be able to stand on their own. Like the majestically aching "Dean & Me" and the almost insistent "All White Everything," both of which sound like the work of a band that is maybe starting to look beyond its mysterious past and toward a more expansive future that includes more radio airplay and record sales. Even if that doesn't happen, it's nice to hear JJ focus their sound while at the same time making it sound bigger and more universal. It makes for a welcome progression and shows that you don't always have to do something radical to keep things going in an interesting way. Oh, that big exception. The record's last track is a real change of pace, to put it lightly. "All Ways, Always" starts with guitar chords that sound lifted off a Bryan Adams record, segues into some lyrics that are oddly teenage-feeling, and morphs into a weird hybrid of AOR and a dumbed-down version of JJ's usual sound. The sensation the song provides is akin to dropping a radio into a bathtub full of warm water: shocking and deathly. It's not enough to ruin the good feelings the previous 40 minutes worked so hard to create, but it comes close. Subtract it and V is a solid, dream-inducing, quietly dramatic step forward for JJ.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra