Album Review by Mark Bayross
Dublin’s JJ72 have really brought out the big guns – producer Flood (U2, Depeche Mode) with Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins) mixing – for this, the all-important follow-up to their highly successful eponymous debut album. Fortunately, the money on this production “dream team” (and their “metallic forest of mics”) seems to have been well spent – I TO SKY sounds absolutely huge.
Opening with the simple piano piece NAMELESS, the album picks up pace beautifully with the sublime single FORMULAE, followed by the very Pumpkins-esque I SAW A PRAYER and the volcanic SERPENT SKY. This is the sound of JJ72 tight, confident and years ahead of themselves.
Perhaps the biggest head-turners come in the middle of the album. BROTHER SLEEP is pretty enough, but SINKING is simply phenomenal, with a ghostly bassline reminiscent of Wolfshiem’s KÜNSTLICHE WELTEN, it’s a seven-minute slow-burn of quite astonishing beauty, simultaneously fragile and muscular.
I TO SKY is deeply imbued with religious imagery, from the early Christian symbols next to each song on the album cover to the themes of contemplation, joy, transcendence and the inevitable cyclical nature of life. But this is not a religious album – Mark Greaney has used these themes as a metaphor for the privilege he feels in his position (“I am one lucky boy because I am managing to achieve [heaven] by just playing songs”). This is a very different Greaney from the one who whined, “why won’t it snow?” a mere two years ago.
And with the closing triptych of the twinkling GLIMMER, string-laden electronica of CITY and elegiac OICHE MHAITH to further recommend this album, he and his bandmates have plenty to give thanks for. I TO SKY is a truly glorious album.