Monday, 22 June 2015

Jaakko Eino Kalevi - S/T review

Jaakko Eino Kalevi st

As you may have gathered from my Jamie XX review earlier this month, I have a deep appreciation for music which encompasses levity and space whilst retaining its hooks and melodic charm. Unlike In Colour however, the focus of Jaakko Eino Kalevi isn’t in the club, but rather the subtleties in basic day-to-day life, viewed through tinted spectacles. His music first caught my attention when I heard the stunning “No End” from his Dreamzone EP back in late 2013, I was captivated by the hushed vocals (courtesy of frequent collaborator Suad Khalifa) and the woozy yet distinct melody which circulated my brain for the last two years (no exaggeration). Even though none of the 4 tracks from the EP made it onto the track list, Jaakko Eino Kalevi feels very much like an expansion upon the ideas he presented on Dreamzone, cementing his status as the best thing to have come out of Sweden in recent memory.

Before I heard this record I was slightly anxious as to whether or not Jaakko Eino Kalevi could pull off an album’s worth of material, Dreamzone may have worked incredibly well as a 4-track EP but would his act wear thin on an entire LP? The answer is yes, yes he can. The opening track “JEK” and the unpronounceable closing track “Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite” act as bookends for the record, both mirroring the same progressive production style with glacial synths driving their melodies which build up to epic climaxes, especially the closer, which erupts into a fantastic horn section. For the most part Jaakko Eino Kalevi is made up of avant garde lounge pop, with many tracks being suitable for some kind of obscure ’70s movie with heaps of smoke and mustaches (which would be aptly strange). The track “Room” encompasses this imagery the most, with Jaakko and Suad’s hushed vocal harmonies creating a sultry bedroom jam.

Away from the more ambient and atmospheric sounds that dominate the album come some more distinctive and memorable tracks, some more ‘poppy’ moments if you will. The obvious standout is “Deeper Shadows”, with it’s hook-laden panpipe-led melody and meandering dual vocals, making this his catchiest and most instant track to date. Elsewhere the disorientating shoegaze of “Double Talk” draws on simplicity with the refrain “You talk, double talk/you think, double thoughts”. The penultimate track “Hush Down” calls upon a funkier aspect of JEK’s sound, particularly the warped synth-heavy pre-chorus leading up to the joyous slurry grooves of the chorus. These tracks in particular standout against the chilled and surreal backdrop of the rest of the LP, creating a sense of diversity.

What is so remarkable about Jaakko Eino Kalevi is that there aren’t actually that many standout tracks in the traditional sense (besides the three singles), yet every track plays a vital roll in pulling the listener into the surreal dream-pop universe created by this synth-pop troubadour. Whether it be the icy synths of the unofficial theme tune JEK or the jazzy outro of the closing track, there are plenty of astonishing artistic achievements scattered across this excellent record. This is undoubtedly one of the best debuts of the year so far and one that simply must grace your summer playlist.


Best tracks: JEK, Double Talk, Deeper Shadows, Hush Down, Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite

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