What’s become increasingly clear over the past few weeks of over-indulgence and endlessly watching ‘best of the noughties’ programs is how relentlessly terrible the start of the decade was. Girls Aloud might looks pretty cool and ‘on trend’ now, but when they started they were horrible chavs, which seems to be a pretty decent analysis of how things have gone – from being generally a bit horrible and awkward to being overly glossy and sickening. It’s telling that the fashion in Fresh Prince repeats seem more relevant than pretty much every show made in the early part of this millenium.
Anyway, whereas there has been a lot of ‘best album’ of the decade articles bandied about, as well as a series of a brilliant articles by Simon Reynolds (of Rip it up and start again fame) on the Guardian website, there have been more than a few groups forgotten in the run downs. Of course, there’s a chance that bands like The Stills simply weren’t influential enough in the eyes of critics to justify even a passing reference in the run through of a decade. But there was one group who promised to be hugely popular, receiving amounts of airtime that would see an equivalent band today being relatively huge. So why doesn’t anyone remember JJ72?
If you’ve never listened to them before, then you might not want to start out now. There eponymous debut comes across as a collaboration between Hope of the States and Grammatics doing cover versions of average Placebo songs. But that’s with the benefit of hindsight – at the time they were quite exciting, with October Swimmer and Oxygen sounding like an exciting start to the new millenium. It’d be easy to say that most of their material lacks bite, and that’s because it does, with songsbased around the an effeminate chorus that never really ends. But whilst this might sound like something a bit hateful, the sound of Formulae still brings me happy memories of waiting 40 minutes for a 2MB song to download on Napster and thinking it was fast, or paying £80 for an MP3 player that held a maximum of 13 songs. we got rid of our 56k connection in about 2003, and whilst JJ72 lasted 3 years longer, they were effectively dead in the water after 2002’s I to the Sky which failed to build on the work of their debut and saw them dropped from their label. Line-up changes followed, but the Dubliners ultimately failed to live up to their early promise which saw them hit the heady heights of #16 in the UK album charts. Hardly the band of the decade, but a nice hint at what the future used to sound like.
JJ72 – October Swimmer