Secretly Canadian's new acquisitions (and future touring partners of the xx) continue to harness dualities that leave them smack dab between savvy-kitschy and kitschy-kitschy. In a sophomore effort that extends their debut full-length (jj N° 2) instead of building on it, the faceless Swedish duo have remained personally elusive while producing a new bunch of accessible pop tracks.
N° 3 is yet another collection of ultra-polished little songs that sound as if they'd been written and recorded in someone's bedroom — endlessly airy but chilling, digitally manufactured but ethereal. "Let Go" plays like something designed to soothe babies to sleep but pleads, "Take me away/Like I overdosed on heroin." And when the opening "My Life" starts up, you think the band must have spent six months in a really dark place — then you realize that, like N° 2's "Ecstasy," the piano ballad is just a Weezy cover.
That jj have sustained anonymity while rising in popularity and acclaim is one thing. But their ability to re-create shrewd discordant pairings in a second set of simple pop songs and still leave fans uncertain as to whether the duo are cleverly cloying or cloyingly clever is what will keep listeners in suspense until the curtains have parted.