The latest album from Swedish duo Johnossi is the perfect vehicle to break out from the confinement of their homeland and achieve world domination. The multi-platinum band have been making waves for some time but apart from their wider followers on social media the world has yet to hear of them...until now.
At times it's hard to remember that this huge pop-rock sound comes from just two guys- and a lot of peddles and technical giggery. The twosome has more in common with One Republic than Royal Blood; sure their subject matter may be darker than your average pop rock outfit, but their tunes are symptomatic with the Swedish love of a solid melody and a rip-roaring chorus and did I mention that these guys sound massive! Songs like Blood and Freeman not only demonstrate the well-crafted sound of the band but also their abilities to keep a vocal line as tight as a drum skin while alternating between rocky overtones and catchy pop licks.
A lot of drum based duo's struggle to keep the lighter moments of their music, and steer clear of a slightly hollow, durgy drum/bass combo that can come across as monotonous after a time; Johnossi don't fall into this trap, maybe because of their sophisticated use of effects, but also perhaps of their musical heritage. The twosome has more in common with One Republic or Def Leppard than Royal Blood; sure their subject matter may be darker than your average pop rock outfit, but their melodies are symptomatic with the Swedish love of a roaring chorus, and did I mention that these guys sound massive! Tracks like On A Roll create a harmony-heavy anthemic pop feel than never once feels like wading through a mire of bass clefs.
Hey Kiddo easily has the big balled swagger of The Stones or Foo Fighters at their most commercial. With social and drug references about the youth culture, the song becomes defiant, hopeful and resilient about the changing world. The track has the attitude of familiar Euro-pop with a sassy riff and a very likeable chorus, but is every bit as subversive as tracks by fellow countrymen Peter Bjorn and John and Caesars, but with more meatballs.
War/ Rain bring in a more introspective and darker sound that cuts the effects, leaving a simplistic backing. Although this steps back into the traditions of recent musical duos, compared to the fuller sounds heard on the rest of the album, it adds variety making the sparser sound more powerful as a result. Got Your Gun follows a similar line, but the electro pulse and heartfelt melody are always ticking over. The use of spitting vocal gun patterns and firing drum lines add to the atmospherics of the percussion based track.
The album has certainly got enough crossover appeal to ensure Johnossi wider success, and it's got more longevity than a lot of similarly styled artists because of its universal sound. Whether it's enough to secure their place in worldwide rock remains to be seen, but it's an impressive start. Welcome to the (blood) jungle.
Groupie Rating: 4/5