Album Review by Mark Bayross
Much has been expected of this, JJ72’s debut album. It’s self-titled, for a start, so already you know that they are announcing their arrival as The Next Big Thing. Given that the Dublin three piece have a collective age of about 6 and a half (do all teenagers have record deals these days?), it’s quite an assured debut.
OCTOBER SWIMMER pretty much sets the scene: Mark Greaney’s falsetto vocals set against a backdrop of overlaid guitars. It’s taut and tuneful join-the-dots guitar pop. It breaks no new ground, but we can forgive them that. Have you heard Travis’ debut album? Has anyone?
WILLOW introduces the inevitable mournful, string-laden ballad, while the following track SURRENDER offsets the mood nicely with some cobweb-clearing blasts of guitar. The staccato riffs and beats of the Placebo-like LONG WAY SOUTH also add a bit of variety, before SNOW (a single earlier this year) attempts to build on the anthemic pattern recently continued by current chart-climber OXYGEN.
The album quietens considerably for the last third, except raucous live favourite ALGERIA. Stripped of guitars, fragile sketches like BROKEN DOWN and NOT LIKE YOU serve Greaney’s voice well – you would think that, despite his youth, he actually knows some of the hurt he relates.
The album closes with BUMBLE BEE, and, while the quiet-verse-loud-chorus thing ain’t exactly new, JJ72 at least manage to hold the dynamics together. Despite inevitable comparisons to the Muses, Coldplays and Radioh**ds of this world, the sound sometimes veers more towards early Catherine Wheel or My Bloody Valentine shoegazing territory.
What this album lacks in variety or originality, it makes up for in confidence. Like it or not, JJ72 are here and plan to hang around for a while.